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IL divorce lawyerAlthough there is light at the end of the tunnel with a vaccine for coronavirus being administered now, the economic impact may be felt for some time. Many non-essential businesses such as bars, restaurants, casinos, fitness centers, and salons were closed to stop the spread of COVID-19. As a result, workers across the country, including Illinois, had to file for unemployment for the first time in their lives. The financial impact of this can be especially difficult for a divorced person.

In some cases, an individual may either pay spousal maintenance (alimony) or receive it as determined in the divorce decree. Spousal support refers to the legal obligation to provide financial support to an ex-spouse in a legal separation or divorce. The purpose of this maintenance is to help the ex-spouse eventually become self-supporting. However, if either spouse loses his or her job, it is important to understand how this unemployment can impact the support payments moving forward.

Spousal Maintenance 101

According to Illinois divorce law, spousal maintenance is intended to help the supported spouse maintain a similar financial situation as he or she had during the marriage. It is often awarded to the lesser-earning spouse or one who did not work outside of the home. Before this type of financial support is awarded, the court will review certain factors, including each spouse’s income, if child support will be paid, and whether one spouse needs financial assistance. A judge can order maintenance for a short or indefinite period with a periodic review depending on the details of the marriage and divorce. For example, if a couple was married a long time and one person has medical issues that prevent them from working, the support may be permanent.

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After a couple finalizes a divorce, they can often go their own separate ways, never having to see each other again. However, if children are involved, they will be co-parenting together. This can be difficult under any circumstances, but even more so during a global health crisis like COVID-19. In an effort to stop the spread of the contagious virus, many non-essential businesses have been closed, while students have been learning remotely and parents working from their homes. Navigating this new normal presents different challenges for co-parents. This means some divorced parents may need to modify their existing co-parenting arrangements or  parenting time orders.

Co-Parenting and Parenting Time Schedules

In Illinois divorces, parents must create a parenting plan that outlines how parental responsibilities (child custody) and parenting time (visitation) will be shared or divided. If spouses cannot agree to the terms of this plan before their divorce is finalized, the court will become involved. In these cases, a judge will make decisions on what is in the best interest of the children. Arrangements can be tailored to fit parents’ work schedules as well as children’s school schedules. Sharing may be in the form of one parent having the kids stay with him or her for one week, then the other parent having the kids the next week. In other situations, one parent may have the majority of parenting time with the co-parent only having the children every other weekend and one night a week.

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When people get married, the traditional vows state that the union is ‘til death do us part. Unfortunately, not all couples live happily ever after. Whether the relationship fails due to outside influences or addictions, or the partners simply grow apart, a divorce may be the best option for everyone involved. During the divorce process in Illinois, a couple must decide how to divide their property and assets. This may be especially important if there is a family-owned business or other high-net-worth assets at stake. If the couple had a prenuptial agreement (prenup) in place, these determinations may already be made, making the marriage dissolution process much easier and faster. However, there are certain factors that can make a prenuptial agreement invalid in Illinois, so it is important to avoid making a mistake when creating this legal document.

Illinois Uniform Premarital Agreement Act

The Illinois Uniform Premarital Agreement Act governs all prenuptial agreements. In order to be legally binding, a prenup must be put in writing and signed by both spouses. If a couple decides not to get married, any premarital agreement they made is voided. Prior to signing a prenup, both parties should disclose all of their financial information to each other, including their income, any property they own, and outstanding debts.

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Couples choose to end their marriage for many reasons, including financial problems. Perhaps you were a saver and your spouse was a spender, which caused many arguments or conflicts. Regardless of why you have decided that divorce is your best option, there are many issues you and your spouse will have to resolve before you can legally dissolve your union. Your first thought may be how to divide up your assets and property. However, it is important to remember that any marital debt will also need to be divided before you can finalize your divorce in Illinois.

Debt Allocation in Illinois

When it comes to dividing marital assets, Illinois is an equitable distribution state. This means that each spouse will be allocated a fair amount of the marital estate, including both property and debt. The first step in determining who will be responsible for what is figuring out which assets or debts are part of the marital estate and which ones are considered personal debts. According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), any property or debts that you and your spouse acquired after your wedding day and before the day you filed for divorce are included in the marital estate. If the debt was accumulated before you got married or after you filed for divorce, it is usually considered individual debt.

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Ending a marriage is undoubtedly one of the most emotionally draining situations many people have to face. At this difficult time, it is vitally important to be aware of the negative impact this emotional upheaval can have on personal finances. While working through your separation and divorce settlement process, it is necessary to take proactive responsibility for safeguarding your personal finances and credit score.

Good Credit Is Crucial

For spouses who have not been responsible for bill-paying in the marriage, the transition to successfully managing their personal finances can be challenging. At our firm, we work with our clients to get an overall understanding of their finances so we can help them make smart decisions going forward. One important area of focus involves the personal credit score. Everyone has their own credit score assigned to them by the credit reporting agencies, regardless of if they are single or married. However, for married people, depending on how the couple’s credit and loan accounts were set-up and administered, their individual credit scores may be substantially different.

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