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If My Ex Remarries, Am I Still Obligated to Pay Spousal Support?After your divorce proceedings are finalized and all the dust settles, it can sometimes still feel as if you have marital obligations to your former spouse. Spousal support is often a requirement for divorced couples, and if you share children, you will continue to communicate and see each other in the years to come. Spousal support, also known as alimony or spousal maintenance, is the financial support from the higher-earning spouse to the other. Oftentimes, these payments are made monthly and the allotted amount is determined and mandated by the court. All spousal support agreements vary, both in amount and timeline, and you may be wondering how long the payments will go on. As the years go by, this financial assistance can begin to seem unnecessary, especially if your former spouse is in a serious relationship with someone new. Luckily, Illinois law addresses the instances that warrant spousal support adjustments or termination for situations such as these.

Adjusting Spousal Support Obligations

Is the possibility of marriage on your former spouse’s horizon? This situation arises for many divorced couples and warrants adjustments to your spousal support obligations. According to Illinois law, there are three situations that warrant immediate termination of spousal support obligations: the death of either spouse, the remarriage of the receiving spouse, or if the receiving spouse begins cohabitating with another person. Because the purpose of alimony is to help the lower-earning spouse stay afloat, if a new spouse comes into the picture, then the financial assistance is no longer necessary. 

If your spouse does not remarry, but you believe that you have a case to modify your spousal support obligations, it is best to discuss your situation with a divorce attorney to verify that it qualifies for an adjustment. According to Illinois law, spousal maintenance obligations may be modified or terminated if the paying party can prove that there has been a substantial change in circumstances, such as the following:

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What Happens to the House During an Illinois Divorce?Looking back on your life with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, it can be emotional to imagine the big steps that you have taken together — buying your first home, moving in together, and making memories under its roof. For many, homes can be a symbol of love, family, and security. For those considering divorce, their home can still represent all of these things, which makes it difficult to determine what you should do with it. Is one of you adamant about keeping the home or are you both looking for a fresh start? Depending on you and your spouse’s circumstances, there are a number of options available to you during the asset division process.

Equitable Division

Illinois is an equitable division state when it comes to marital property division. In other words, you and your spouse’s belongings will be divided fairly, but not necessarily equally. A number of factors, such as each spouse’s income and savings, will be considered when determining who gets what. For most couples, their home is their largest asset, making it a prized possession during asset division. Couples involved in a collaborative divorce can determine how they would like things to be handled, while those involved in litigation will have a judge make this decision for them. Regardless, there are a few common options available if your intention is to keep the house and not sell it.

Divide the Large Assets

For couples that have a number of large assets, such as a vacation home, expensive cars, or a large stock portfolio, they may decide to allot certain assets to each other. One spouse gets the marital home, while the other gets the vacation home. Since one spouse is typically more inclined to keep the marital home than the other, this can often be an easy decision to make. If you and your spouse have kids, the custodial parent will usually stay in the home with their kids, while the other parent finds a new place to live.

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What Unique Issues Do LGBTQ Couples Face in Divorce?In June 2015, history was made as the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples in every state had the legal right to marry. Illinois had already legalized same-sex marriage the year before. Despite only gaining the legal right less than a decade ago, many LGBTQ couples considered themselves married, or life partners, long before Illinois passed its legislation. A lack of legal recognition may not have kept same-sex couples from being together, but it did prevent them from having the legal rights given to married couples. The legalization of same-sex marriage, unfortunately, did not remove all discrepancies that exist between heterosexual spouses and same-sex spouses. If you are a member of the LGBTQ community and wish to file for divorce, there are a few unique circumstances that you may experience. 

The Length of the Marriage

Many LGBTQ couples have been together for much longer than their marriage certificate says. Couples who have been together for decades, but only legally married for the past five years, may have difficulties during the asset division process and alimony determination. Illinois is an equitable division state, meaning that property is divided fairly but not necessarily equally. External factors will be taken into consideration when determining who gets what. For couples who have been together for decades but have legal recognition of the marriage for only the past few years, property that they purchased together before getting legally married may not be considered marital property. Similar discrepancies exist when determining who will pay spousal maintenance. The number of years that you are legally married plays a significant role in how much is paid and how long the payments will last. Without proof of your decades-long relationship, you may have difficulties obtaining proper maintenance amounts.

Parenting Determinations

Divorcing parents will have to spend time formulating a parenting plan, determining who the primary caregiver will be, and deciding how much child support will be paid. If you and your spouse are involved in a collaborative divorce, then you may be able to make these decisions between each other. However, if you are seeking divorce litigation, the judge will make decisions about your allocation of parental responsibilities. Depending on who the biological parent is, they may be granted primary parenting time with the child simply based on their biological connection, not their parenting skills. If you are not the biological parent and never formally adopted your child, the judge can make the decision to grant your co-parent full parental responsibility and give you very few legal rights as a parent.

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Am I Responsible for My Spouse’s Credit Card Debt in Divorce?When going through a divorce, there are often two areas that bring about the most contention: children and finances. These two subjects can sometimes bring out a side of your spouse that you have never seen before. Financially speaking, a divorce forces you to look into the nitty-gritty details of both you and your spouse’s spending habits. Couples may think they know their partner until hidden debts get revealed. Whether or not you were the hand behind the spending, you may be responsible for paying these dues during the marital asset division process.

Equitable Distribution

Like most states throughout the U.S., Illinois follows the equitable distribution model when dividing marital property in a divorce. This means that all assets and debts are divided equitably, not necessarily in half. In other words, the judge considers various factors before dividing anything up between spouses. This includes each spouse’s income, financial needs, and personal assets. The asset division process not only includes positive property owned by the couple, but also any debt incurred throughout their marriage. This must also be divvied up between the two individuals, especially any credit card debt that has accumulated over the years.

What About Credit Card Debt?

Unfortunately, some spouses may uncover large amounts of credit card debt that they were unaware of and not responsible for during the divorce process. Though your spouse may have been the one spending the money, if your name is tied to the account in any way, you are still on the hook for the amount owed. A divorce agreement cannot alter your contractual obligation to the creditor who lent your spouse the money that they spent using the card.

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How to Help Your Child Through Divorce Depending on Their AgeMarried couples who have children often take the longest to recognize that their relationship is no longer working and to end their marriage. Children can act as good distractions, allowing you to focus on parenting rather than being a husband or wife. Parents may also see how good their spouse is as a parent and use this as an excuse to stay married even when their romantic and emotional relationship is non-existent. Coming to the decision to divorce is never easy and the thought of telling your kids about the split can be enough to keep some parents in their marriage “for the children’s sake.” 

If you have decided that divorce is right for you, you may be wondering how to help your children through this time, especially if they are all different ages. Since children have different development levels depending on their age, it is important to have age-appropriate conversations with your kids when telling them about the divorce and during the months following the finalization of your divorce.

Ages 0-5

Children this young can have an easier transition period since they do not yet have a sense of “normalcy” in their lives. As they get older, they will likely not remember a time when you and your spouse were together and their “normal” will be two loving parents who are no longer married. For kids this age, it can be difficult for them to understand where their other parent is at the beginning stages of the split. They will likely ask you where their other parent is for weeks, if not months, on end. When telling them about the divorce, you should provide them with simple, concrete explanations about which parent is moving out, where the child will live, and when they will see their other parent. It may be confusing to them at first, but providing them with a consistent schedule and stable, nurturing care will help ease the transition.

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