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Joliet divorce attorneysAs part of the transition from being married to being single that occurs in a divorce, Illinois couples are required to equitably divide all marital assets and debts. This is an issue that can lead to much conflict, and the outcome can have serious financial implications for both spouses. As such, it is important to be prepared by understanding the assets you will be expected to divide and how you can do so in a way that protects your interests.

Examples of Marital Assets

Illinois law defines marital assets as any properties that are acquired by either spouse during the marriage and before any judgment of legal separation, with a few exceptions including assets acquired by one partner through a gift or inheritance, and assets that are designated as non-marital in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Some examples of marital property may be obvious, but others you may not expect. Marital assets can include all of the following:

  • Bank accounts with contributions made during the marriage, whether they are joint accounts or listed under one spouse’s name
  • Real estate property including the marital home, if it was acquired during the marriage
  • Physical property acquired by either spouse, including vehicles, furniture, appliances, jewelry, and other valuables
  • Retirement accounts, including both individual and employer-sponsored accounts, if contributions were made during the marriage
  • Business assets and investments acquired during the marriage, whether they are owned by one spouse or co-owned by both.

Methods of Dividing Marital Property

It is important to note that Illinois requires an “equitable” distribution rather than an “equal” distribution, meaning that neither individual assets nor the entire value of the marital estate must be divided exactly in half between both spouses. This leaves you with options for determining the best way to divide your marital property. For example, you may negotiate with your spouse to come to an agreement that allows each of you to remain financially stable and keep properties that are important to you. You may also negotiate for spousal maintenance to offset imbalances resulting from the division of property. If negotiation is not possible, you can also take your case before the court with the assistance of an attorney.

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Joliet child custody lawyersIn most cases in which a child’s parents get a divorce, and in many cases in which the parents have never been married, an Illinois court will attempt to reach a resolution in which both parents have substantial parenting time and a role in parental decision-making responsibilities. However, the child’s best interests are the most important consideration, and in cases in which a parent’s behavior could put the child at risk, the court may order a restriction of parental responsibilities. One such example is when a parent has problems with drug addiction or substance abuse.

Parental Responsibility Restrictions Due to Substance Abuse

The habitual abuse of alcohol, illegal drugs, and other controlled substances can not only impair a parent’s ability to perform parental responsibilities, but can also directly harm their child. Under Illinois law, parenting time and decision-making responsibilities can both be restricted if there is sufficient evidence that a parent has put the child’s physical, mental, or moral health, or emotional development at risk.

In cases involving substance abuse, the court may order that a parent must refrain from using or possessing a substance before and during their parenting time. The parent may also be ordered to complete a drug or alcohol abuse treatment program as a condition of any parenting time or visitation they are granted. Depending on the situation, additional restrictions may be warranted as well, including:

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Joliet family law attorneysFor those going through a divorce, the financial demands that come along with the legal process can make things challenging, especially for lower-earning or stay-at-home spouses. Rarely do spouses make the same amount of money, which can sometimes lead to issues throughout the marriage, divorce, and months following the split. In order to make up for this financial discrepancy, Illinois law requires divorcing couples to discuss spousal maintenance, also known as spousal support, and divorcing parents to create an agreement regarding child support obligations. Those in a cooperative divorce can typically create these legal designations with the help of their attorneys, while those battling it out in a courtroom will have these decisions made for them by a judge. Your divorce agreement is meant to last the tests of time, but what about when circumstances change? Many divorcees will seek out new romantic relationships as time passes, and in some cases, these new partners can impact the details of your divorce agreement.

Spousal Support

Any changes to your divorce agreement are known as post-divorce modifications. In any instance of adjustment, the requesting party must show a substantial change in circumstances. When it comes to spousal support obligations, the following circumstances warrant the termination of spousal maintenance:

  1. The death of either party
  2. The remarriage of the party who receives maintenance
  3. The cohabitation of the receiving party with another person on a continuing conjugal basis

As you can see, living with a new partner can lead to the automatic termination of spousal support. The purpose of spousal support is for one spouse to help the other until it is no longer financially necessary. These financial obligations are not meant to last forever. In fact, there are three different types of spousal support agreements that may be made. Fixed-term maintenance requires the paying party to provide financial support for a specific period of time, and at the end of that period they are no longer responsible for assisting their former spouse. Indefinite maintenance is an agreement with no specified end date, leaving this determination up in the air until modification or termination is requested. Reviewable maintenance sets a particular arrangement for a specified period of time, having both parties review the arrangement every few years.

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Joliet divorce attorneysThe holiday season will look a bit different for everyone this year. With COVID-19 impacting Americans’ ability to host typical holiday gatherings and businesses being limited to help reduce the spread of the virus, the upcoming winter holidays will be different from previous years. For those recently divorced, the pandemic as well as recent life changes can make the holiday season feel especially heavy. 

If you are about to enter your first holiday season single, keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Accept that things are difficult: It is not uncommon for recently divorced individuals to try and ignore their feelings and treat the holiday festivities as they normally would. Going into the holidays with these expectations can leave you feeling disappointed when you do not find yourself in the same spirits that you are typically in during the holidays. As the season begins, recognize that this year is unprecedented in a number of ways and that you may not be in the same cheerful mindset as you have been in the past.
  2. Create boundaries: The winter holidays often include family parties and the annual life update that you provide to your extended family members. Some may still have small gatherings with family this year, and if you have not seen them in a while, you could be asked a number of uncomfortable questions about your divorce. Setting your boundaries and preparing your responses before you step into these situations are good ways to avoid any unexpected confrontation or inquiries.
  3. Avoid intoxication: It is no secret that holiday parties are often filled with seasonal alcoholic beverages to set the mood. While a drink or two may help to calm your nerves, indulging too much can bring up unwanted sentiments, such as sadness or anger towards your recent divorce. It may be a good idea to keep the alcoholic drinks to a minimum to avoid any uncomfortable outbursts, conversations, or even a driving under the influence (DUI) charge on the way home.
  4. Remember your kids: Depending on the impact of your divorce, you may wish to cancel your holiday gatherings and traditions altogether. For divorced parents, this is not necessarily an option. It is important to remind your children that life goes on after your divorce, including the holidays. By focusing on making the holidays cheerful and fun for your children, you can help get yourself in the holiday spirit. You may need to update your holiday traditions, depending on the details of your parenting plan and schedule
  5. Steer clear of complete isolation: The COVID-19 pandemic has required Americans to limit social interactions for their health and safety. Depending on your own health and quarantine social bubble, it is a good idea to remain connected to close family members and friends. Whether your gatherings occur virtually or in-person, these interactions can help you remember the good things in your life and avoid getting lost in your old wedding video, romantic movies, or memories of your previous marriage.

Contact a Homewood, IL Family Lawyer

A common issue that recently divorced couples face during the holiday season is how to share their parenting obligations. If you forgot to include these details in your parenting plan or would like to modify your previously outlined parenting schedule, the legal team at The Foray Firm can help. Our Joliet family law attorneys assist families going through transition, no matter the time of year. If you are considering divorce or would like to modify your parenting plan, contact our family law firm at 312-702-1293 for help.

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Joliet family law attorneyThe stigmatization behind the term “mental illness” has been greatly reduced over the past few decades. Unlike in the past, being diagnosed with a mental illness is fairly common, and contrary to popular belief, the diagnosis does not necessarily impact your ability to perform everyday activities or hold responsibility. In the U.S. alone, nearly one in five adults live with a mental illness. 

If you are a parent whose former spouse or co-parent has a mental illness, you may be concerned about their ability to be there for your child. While having a mental illness is not enough to be considered incapable of parenting, if you have seen your co-parent’s mental health get in the way of their parenting capabilities, you may be wondering how to address this in court and have these concerns reflected in your parenting plan. With the help of a reputable attorney, you can have your concerns heard by the court and keep your child in safe hands. 

Levels of Mental Illness

Mental illnesses can come in many forms and levels of severity. The National Institute of Mental Health recognizes two categories of mental illness: any mental illness (AMI) and serious mental illness (SMI). AMI is defined as a behavioral, mental or emotional disorder that can vary in impact from mild to severe impairment. SMI is a behavioral, mental or emotional disorder which results in serious functional impairment and which greatly interferes with or limits major life activities. According to 2019 data, an estimated 20.6 percent of all U.S. adults have AMI, while only 5.2 percent of U.S. adults have SMI. As you can see, only a small number of Americans suffer from SMI, and in order for your co-parent’s mental health to weigh into your parenting plan, they will likely need to have severe impairment from AMI or be diagnosed with a SMI.

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