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Belleville Family Law Blog

Selling the family home in a divorce

Ending a marriage is typically an emotional and traumatic experience, certain aspects need both spouses to be on the same page. Selling the family home at the highest possible price and sharing the proceeds fairly will require cooperation because bickering will only lead to unnecessary legal fees. It might be best to deal with this during the divorce when couples are dealing with other financial matters and debt division -- a process that can be eased with the help of an Illinois divorce attorney.

Some couples with young children choose to keep the home to limit the trauma suffered by the children. They might choose to sell the family home when the children are older and have adjusted to the new family dynamics. However, careful consideration of affordability will be necessary. Maintaining the property and all the related expenses could be a significant financial burden if not shared.

The challenges of divorce as a self-employed business owner

Anyone who is self-employed might find that life's ups and downs could affect the business operation and its clients. Divorce is one of the events that could be legally, financially and emotionally challenging. Considering certain aspects before filing for divorce in Illinois might limit the negative impact.

The dynamics of each marriage are unique, and looking at the pros and cons of the various options might be the best place to start. The possibilities include litigation, uncontested divorce, legal separation, collaborative or mediated divorce. Couples who can sit down and negotiate a settlement agreement might be able to avoid the courtroom trauma of litigated divorces.

What are the differences between divorce and legal separation?

Deciding to end a marriage is a significant step, and some couples in Illinois choose instead to file for a legal separation. This allows the couple to remain married but live separately, while a divorce would dissolve the marriage. Some prefer this option because it leaves them with the opportunity to reconcile and get back together. Reconciliation after a divorce would require the couple to remarry if they wish to have a legal reunification.

Some Social Security benefits that would be lost in a divorce may be retained in a legal separation, along with other benefits such as health care. Legal separation does not change one's marital status, which means that neither party is free to marry anyone else. Spouses will also remain next of kin who may be able to make certain financial or medical decisions for each other in the event of one becoming debilitated.

Sole legal child custody with joint physical custody is possible

When a couple goes through a divorce, they become ex-spouses, but they will never be ex-parents. Child-related issues will always remain some of the most challenging aspects of ending a marriage. Although Illinois courts give preference to joint child custody, certain circumstances make it possible for one of the parents to obtain sole custody. Also, parents can share joint physical custody while one of them can petition the court for sole legal custody, or they can share legal custody but seek sole physical custody.

In situations in which one parent is typically unavailable for consultation when decisions must be made about the education, health and religion-related matters of the child, the court might agree to award the other parent sole legal custody. However, if the court sees such a petition as an attempt of one parent to avoid contact with his or her ex, it will likely not consider it to be in the best interest of the child. An example of a justification for such a claim is when one parent relocates into a different time zone, making joint urgent or emergency decisions challenging.

Is legal separation right for you?

For all intents and purposes, your marriage is over. Perhaps you and your spouse have known this for some time, and you expect that, at some point, you will divorce. For whatever reason, the time is not right for taking that step. One thing is clear, however; you and your spouse can no longer live together peaceably.

If you are not ready to sign divorce papers, you may place your rights at risk if you simply move out. In some cases, the best way to protect your rights until it is time to divorce is to consider a legal separation. Through this process, the court recognizes your separation and supports agreements you and your spouse make regarding critical issues, such as those related to your children and your finances.

Social media can play a significant role in divorce

Social networks have become part of the lives of almost everyone nationwide, including Illinois. Years ago, journals were kept for recording daily activities and personal thoughts, and no one dared reading someone else's diary. In contrast, the modern trend is for people to share all their thoughts and actions with the world on Facebook and other social media platforms. Not all Facebook users realize that everything they post can be used as evidence in a divorce, child support or child custody case.

Examples of social media posts that have been used as evidence include those that show details of significant purchases or luxury trips or cruises by a parent claiming money issues or unemployment in child support cases. Information on sites like LinkedIn might disclose previously undisclosed income, and changes to personal status could raise questions. The use of dating sites and the information shared could be used in cases in which infidelity played a role.

Grandparents can formalize child custody of grandchildren

A significant number of children in Illinois are in the care of their grandparents. In some cases, circumstances lead them into taking the place of parents, and in some of those situations, grandparents who offered to help out find themselves ultimately becoming responsible for raising their grandchildren. There might come a day when grandparents realize that, to take proper care of the children, they need to formally obtain child custody.

In circumstances in which the state removes the children from the care of their parents, the grandparents could be appointed as foster parents, which would make them responsible for day-to-day care of the children. However, any significant decisions regarding the children will be made by the state. Grandparents can petition the court for physical child custody with a power of attorney that will formally authorize them to address medical, education and other needs of the children. Such situations might be temporary or permanent, and depending on state laws, it might be an informal arrangement and achieved by the parents signing consent forms rather than obtaining power of attorney.

Child custody: Will Illinois pass the gift of both parents law?

To demonstrate the unique relationship Illinois has with the children in the state, a parenting bill that just missed being passed last year will be proposed again this year with added support. The sponsors of the bill propose a law that will have family courts presuming that equal parenting and child custody is in a child's best interest unless otherwise proved. They call this the gift of both parents.

Lawmakers say that under no circumstances would custody automatically be awarded equally to both parents. Instead, the presumption will be the starting point, with any issues of significance being reviewed. These could include the mental and physical health of both parents, histories or potential domestic violence or abuse, matters about their proximity, and anything else that could jeopardize the best interests of the child.

How did federal workers keep up child support during shutdown?

While the government shutdown lasted longer than what most people anticipated those who have to deal with the wage impact might face unanticipated legal problems. Noncustodial parents nationwide, including in Illinois, whose earnings were affected by the shutdown might have been unable to maintain child support payments. Many federal employees who live from paycheck to paycheck might have had to find other sources of income or borrow money to pay child support.

Even those with savings might have used the money to cover day-to-day living expenses. Unfortunately, the fact that wages are put on hold during a government shutdown does not remove the obligation to pay child support. Although the affected workers were promised back pay after the end of the shutdown, it offers no relief to struggling parents.

Child support facts to dispel the myths

Illinois parents who are recently divorced and new to having to deal with all the child-related issues might have questions about it. There are many child support myths, and the sooner parents learn the facts, the sooner they can adjust to the new dynamics. Parents who have to pay child support often believe the myth that child support is one-sided and only that parent's responsibility.

The fact is that even if the noncustodial parent makes a financial contribution every month, the custodial parent is responsible for the child's well-being 24/7. When the amount of child support is determined, the court considers more than the income of both parents. The time that each parent spends with the child will also be factored into the calculations.

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

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