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maintenance, Wheaton divorce lawyersIf you are considering divorce in Illinois, you probably have many questions. One of these may be about whether or not you will be required to pay alimony, or spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance is designed to help financially support a lesser-earning spouse after a divorce. While spousal maintenance is awarded less often now than it was in the past, there is still a possibility you will be required to make spousal maintenance payments. Read on to learn about alimony laws in Illinois, as well as how recent federal tax law changes can affect the amount of alimony spouses pay and receive.

Spousal Support Basics

Spousal maintenance, or spousal support, can often be a contentious issue during a divorce. Courts examine many factors when deciding whether or not a spousal maintenance order is appropriate. When making spousal support decisions, Illinois courts typically consider:

  • Any existing premarital or prenuptial agreements between the parties;
  • The standard of living established during the marriage;
  • How long the marriage lasted;
  • Each party’s property and income including retirement and disability income;
  • The age and health of each party;
  • Each party’s present and future earning capacity;
  • Contributions each party made to the marriage including contributions made as a homemaker or stay-at-home-parent;
  • Contributions that one spouse made to the advancement of the other spouse’s education or career;
  • How long it will take the party requesting support to gain suitable education, training, and employment;
  • Tax consequences of spousal maintenance options; and
  • Other factors that the court believes are fair and pertinent.

How Recent Changes in Tax Law Affect Spousal Support

Previous to the recent passage of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, spousal maintenance payers were able to claim maintenance payments as a deduction on annual tax returns. The spouse receiving alimony was obligated to report maintenance received as taxable income. Now, spousal maintenance payers do not receive a deduction, and maintenance recipients will no longer report payments as taxable income.

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property, DuPage County divorce attorneysIf you are considering divorce, you probably have several questions and concerns. One of these may the question of how your property, assets, and debts will be split between you and your spouse. In an Illinois divorce, marital property and debt are divided according to “equitable distribution” laws. Of course, determining exactly what is equitable is not always easy, and many factors go into asset division decisions.

Only Marital Property is Divided

During an Illinois divorce, the only property which is subject to division is marital, or shared property. At first glance, it may seem easy to distinguish marital property from separate, or non-marital property. The marital estate, as it is called, generally includes property acquired during the marriage and separate property includes assets which the spouses owned prior to getting married. However, there are many exceptions to these generalizations. Certain gifts and inheritances acquired during the marriage are still considered separate property. However, if separate property is comingled, or mixed, with maritirel property, the funds or property may all be considered marital. For example, if a husband receives an inheritance from a deceased relative during the marriage, this is likely separate property. However, if he then uses these funds to pay for combined expenses, the whole amount may be considered marital property during divorce.

Illinois Divides Property Equitably, Not Necessarily Evenly

Some states divide marital property 50-50 during divorce. However, Illinois takes a different approach. Illinois uses a method called equitable distribution to determine how assets and debt should be divided during a divorce. Many factors are considered by the court in order to determine the most reasonable and fair division of assets. These factors include, but are not limited to:

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Common Complications in a Gray Divorce

Posted on in Divorce

gray divorce, Wheaton divorce lawyersMore and more older couples are getting divorced in the United States. The divorce rate for people aged 50 and over has doubled since 1990, and more than doubled for those over the age of 65. There are several reasons that may explain why so called “gray divorce” is becoming more common. Firstly, there is far less stigma surrounding divorce than there was even just a few decades ago. Just as younger people do, older individuals want to pursue the life that makes them fulfilled and happy. Sometimes, this means ending a marriage. Gray divorce can come with significant complications, however, and it is critical that those getting divorced at an advanced age educate themselves about what to expect.

Spousal Support Is Often Ordered When a Long-Term Marriage Ends

Illinois courts consider several factors when making spousal maintenance (alimony) decisions. These factors include:

  • The duration of the marriage;
  • Income and property of each party;
  • Present and future earning capacity of each party;
  • Any Impairment to a spouse’s present/future earning capacity;
  • Whether or not the party seeking spousal maintenance can become self-supporting;
  • Standard of living established during the marriage;
  • Health, ages, income, and employability of each spouse;
  • Any contributions a spouse makes to the other’s education or career;
  • Tax consequences; and
  • Any other relevant factors.

Divorcing couples are encouraged to make their own decisions about spousal support. If a couple cannot come to an agreement about spousal maintenance payments, the court will make these decisions for the couple. According to the law in Illinois, the court may only award spousal support if there is a valid reason to do so. Each case is handled on an individual basis.

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custody, Wheaton family lawyersIf you are an Illinois parent who is considering ending your marriage through divorce, you probably have many questions about what the custody process will look like. Child custody and visitation are called the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time in the law. Illinois courts will always do what they believe to be in the best interest of the child when it comes to decisions about parental responsibility and guardianship. Except in cases involving domestic violence or child abuse, it is assumed that having both parents involved in the child’s life is the ideal custody scenario.

Does the Court Always Decide Custody?

Unmarried parents or divorcing parents who wish to share custody of minor children are required to create a “parenting agreement” or parenting plan. This plan outlines what is expected from each parent in terms of custody, visitation, and involvement in the child’s upbringing. The court only intervenes when parents cannot reach such an agreement about parental responsibilities and parenting time.

Do Children Have a Say in Custody Decisions?

The answer to whether or not children can decide who they live with varies case by case. Courts are more likely to consider the desires of older children who can give a good reason for why they wish to live with a certain parent. Ultimately, the court will make the custody decision based on what is in the child’s best interest.

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Wheaton divorce attorneysMoney troubles are not uncommon among divorcing couples. In fact, a recent study on the money habits of married couples found that finances were the main stressor in 35 percent of all relationships. Statistics also show that an alarming number of people hide debt, money, and large purchases from their significant other; as many as 7.2 million Americans are hiding money from their spouse, and approximately 6 percent of married persons say they have a secret credit card or bank account that their spouse does not know about.

Sadly, all this hidden debt and money can come back to haunt a couple that breaks down and decides to divorce. In some cases, it may even leave parties with massive amounts of debt that can only be relieved through bankruptcy. How should you proceed if this is your situation?

The answer to that question depends on a number of factors - everything from the toxicity of your current situation to you and your spouse’s income and amount of marital debt.

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