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Belleville Family Law Blog

Working with your ex to create a parenting plan

When it comes to creating a parenting plan after a divorce, you have two choices. You can give control of this precious situation to the courts, or you can work out a suitable plan with your ex. As distasteful as it may sound to negotiate with your spouse, it may be the best way to arrive at a plan that is suitable for you and in the best interests of your children.

Since you and your spouse are the ones who know the way your family operates, you may be in the best position to create a plan that provides the children with a fair balance of time with each parent while considering the most convenient options for dealing with conflicts. While convenience is certainly not the priority, it may help you and your spouse in the long term if you consider all the necessary factors when discussing your plan.

How will property division affect the asset holdings of Bezos?

When well-known, high net worth couples announce their intention to file for a divorce, the first thing people in Illinois and elsewhere might wonder is whether the couple has a prenuptial agreement in place. This is the question asked after reports appeared of the imminent divorce of Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos. How will property division affect the personal assets and the company that Bezos started from his garage back in the 90s?

Although Bezos already had a successful career when the couple married in 1993, without knowing then that Amazon would become a trillion-dollar concern, would they have signed a prenuptial contract? Although more couples sign prenups now, at that time, it was something mostly done by couples of which one spouse was already wealthy before the marriage. It is for that reason that the law allows couples to sign postnuptial agreements.

Illinois now treats pet custody the same as child custody

With the New Year came various new laws across the country. Illinois couples who are considering divorce might have been concerned about the fate of family pets. In many households, pets are considered as part of the family, and it could be as traumatic to be cut off from pets as it would be not to have contact with their children. Fortunately, lawmakers have recognized this, and as from Jan. 1, 2019, Illinois family laws will no longer treat pets, as assets to be subject to the property division process.

Couples can now negotiate pet custody in the same way as child custody -- for the court's approval -- or petition the court to award joint custody or shared custody. While some courts have been accommodating in recent years, judges will now have clear guidance when it comes to decisions about granting pet custody to one or both spouses. Matters that will feature in their considerations will include the pet parent who provides day-to-day care and who pays for food, vaccinations, and other veterinary or care expenses.

Family law restricts an unmarried father's legal rights

When an unmarried Illinois man is the biological father of a child, he will not automatically be regarded as the father. Paternity will have to be established. Family law allows fathers to acknowledge paternity by signing specific forms after the child's birth. Without acknowledging paternity, the father will not have any rights, but acknowledgment will only guarantee him some rights.

After signing an AOP, particular paternal rights will be established, one of which is the right -- and duty -- to pay child support. If the father does not acknowledge paternity, the birth mother could take legal steps to establish paternity in an effort to get a court to order child support payments. Another guaranteed right for a father who signed the AOP is the right to have his last name recorded for the child on the birth certificate. Furthermore, the mother may not proceed with any adoption proceedings of the child without consulting with the father.

A change in circumstances may spark a need for modifications

Making the decision to divorce can be a harrowing process, especially if you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse have children together. Even if you feel that dissolving your marriage is the best path for everyone involved, you may still have concerns over how the situation might affect the kids.

As you attempt to negotiate a parenting plan, you likely considered it imperative to cover all the necessary topics. However, it can be difficult to predict all that your future will hold, and there may come a time when you feel it might be necessary to make changes to the original arrangement.

Consider other payment options to replace alimony in divorce

Very soon, the strike of the clock at midnight will be the start of 2019. At that time, the familiar alimony tax rules will be replaced by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which will make received alimony payments taxable income and alimony payments non-tax deductible. Anyone in Illinois whose divorce could not be finalized before New Year's Eve may want to look at other options to consider instead of alimony. It is essential to take into account that the new law will also affect other aspects of a divorce such as home ownership.

Under the new law, the same tax rules will apply to property division payments and alimony payments. One option is for the one spouse to receive his or her share of the property as payments to replace alimony. In this way, the spouse who needs support can receive his or her share of the property in regular payments instead of spousal support. However, these decisions must not be made in haste and preferably not without legal guidance.

The new face of divorce and alimony after New Year's Eve

It is now a year after the U.S. Congress passed the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Many couples in Illinois and elsewhere who are in the throes of divorce have pushed to get their cases finalized before Dec. 31. That would ensure that the Internal Revenue Service would continue to allow alimony payments to be deductible for the paying spouse, and taxable for the receiving spouse, none of which will apply after New Year's Eve.

Although many wives are now the primary breadwinners, women still make up the majority of spouses who need spousal support after divorces. As from Jan. 1 2019, husbands may need a lot more convincing to agree to pay alimony than in the past. This is because they will no longer receive tax benefits on alimony payments, and the receiving spouses will receive tax-free dollars if their divorces are finalized after Dec. 31.

Divorce: Untying financial knots can be complicated

Before tying the knot in Illinois, it is likely with great anticipation that otherwise dreaded tasks are completed. These might include getting a marriage certificate copy and arranging the name change with the Social Security Office and the DMV, opening joint bank and credit card accounts, and ensuring that the names of both spouses are on the residential property deed. The same excitement might not be present when all those changes must be undone in the event of a divorce.

When a marriage ends, the most important step might be the changing of account information. Couples are advised to cancel joint credit card accounts rather than just removing one spouse's name. Regardless of whom the court orders to pay that debt, the credit card company will continue to hold both responsible, and nonpayment can cause damage to credit score for seven years. For that reason, transferring the outstanding balance onto a new account in the name of the party responsible for payment might be a better idea.

Under which circumstances can child custody be taken away?

Family courts in Illinois base any child-related decisions on the best interests of the child. Times have changed, and child custody is no longer a mother's right. Fathers have equal rights to care for their children, and although it is mostly agreed that children fare better when both parents share custody, it is no longer unusual for a father to get primary custody. However, the parent who is awarded physical custody can just as quickly have the children removed from his or her care under particular circumstances.

If the custodial parent breaks the law, child custody may be removed. Using or possessing drugs, child neglect, and child abuse are some actions that could result in custody removal. However, a parent may also lose rights to a child if another member of the household threatens the safety of the child. If the parent does not remove an abusive person, the court can remove the child and only allow visitation.

You can see your kids even when they aren't with you -- virtually

When you got married, you may not have thought it would ever end. As the years went by, you had children and realized that the two of you grew apart. Perhaps you fell out of love and want to make sure that you retain the friendship the two of you still enjoy.

More people appear to be ending their relationships at this point nowadays. The number of arguments increase, the romance is gone and the friendship shows signs of strain. This set of circumstances indicates for many that it is time to divorce. The primary mission at this point is to make sure that the children have as much time with each parent as possible.

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

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