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Joliet IL family lawyerParents of children with special health or developmental needs are well aware of the challenges that come with raising and providing for them. Unfortunately, these challenges can often become more pronounced when parents are going through a divorce. In addition to the mental energy that the divorce process requires, parents may also be concerned about how best to handle decisions regarding child support and parental responsibilities in a way that prioritizes their children’s interests and needs.

Child Support for Special Needs Children in Illinois

One of the most significant challenges for parents of children with special needs is the financial cost. Estimates from the U.S. government indicate that from birth to age 18, the cost of raising a child with special needs may be at least five times as high as the cost of raising an average child. While many sources of financial assistance may be available, a good portion of the expenses is likely to fall on the child’s parents.

When the parents of a child with special needs decide to get divorced, child support is a crucial element of the resolution. Illinois law typically bases child support obligations on the average amount that parents within a certain income bracket tend to spend on a child’s basic needs, but the law allows for a significant deviation from the usual calculation to account for a child’s extraordinary developmental, medical, or physical needs. You should be sure to consider costs including ongoing medical care and treatment, special education, in-home accommodations, transportation to appointments, and the services of child therapists and developmental specialists.

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Will County divorce lawyerStudent loan debt is a serious burden for millions of Americans, with recent statistics showing an average debt of more than $30,000 among borrowers. Often, borrowers take 20 years or longer to fully pay off their loans. With this in mind, there is a good chance that if you are going through a divorce, you, your spouse, or both of you will have outstanding student loan debt. You should be sure to understand how this debt will affect the division of marital property, as well as your financial situation after the divorce.

Marital and Non-Marital Debt

One of the most important steps when getting a divorce is to take inventory of all of your assets and debts, as well as all those belonging to your spouse. Each spouse’s non-marital assets and debts will stay with them after the divorce, while marital assets and debts will be distributed fairly between the spouses. The question, then, is whether student loans qualify as non-marital or marital debt.

It is common now for people to wait until after graduating college to get married, meaning that many spouses have taken out student loans before their marriage begins. Student loans incurred before the marriage are an example of non-marital debt. However, if you or your spouse took out student loans during your marriage to further your education, they will most likely be considered marital debt. The fact that the loans financed only one spouse’s education, or that only one spouse signed on the loans, will not change their marital status. If you get divorced later in life after taking out loans in your name to finance your children’s education, these loans will also likely be considered marital debt.

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Will County divorce lawyerEnding a marriage can be a complicated process, especially when the couple has built a life together over many years. However, some people recognize early on that their marriage is not going to work and decide to file for divorce after a short time. If you and your spouse are in agreement about ending your marriage, you may be eligible for a joint simplified dissolution of marriage in Illinois, which can make the process much easier and more efficient.

Joint Simplified Dissolution Criteria

Under Illinois law, there are several qualifications that a couple must fulfill in order to pursue a joint simplified dissolution of marriage. You and your spouse may meet the requirements if:

  • You have been married for less than eight years.
  • One or both of you have been an Illinois resident or stationed in Illinois for military service for at least the past 90 days.
  • You are in agreement that your marriage has broken down due to irreconcilable differences.
  • You do not have any children together and one of you is not currently pregnant.
  • You have reached a written agreement on the ownership of any pets or companion animals.
  • The value of your marital property is less than $50,000, and your assets do not include any real estate property or retirement savings of a combined value of $10,000 or more.
  • Your individual gross annual incomes are both less than $30,000, and your combined gross annual income is less than $60,000.
  • You have disclosed all relevant financial information to each other and reached a written agreement on the allocation of marital debts and any marital assets worth more than $100.
  • You have both waived the right to maintenance, otherwise known as spousal support or alimony.

Reaching a Resolution

Pursuing a joint simplified dissolution of marriage does not mean that you have to waive the right to an attorney, and in fact, it can be quite beneficial to consult with a lawyer before moving forward. An attorney can help you review your case to determine whether you are eligible, and can also advise you of your rights to property and assets to help you protect your interests when negotiating an agreement with your spouse. Attorney fees for a joint simplified dissolution are often much more affordable than for a more complicated divorce, and at The Foray Firm, you may be eligible for a flat fee divorce.

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Will County family law attorneyFor many divorcing parents, decisions related to their children are not only legal matters, but extremely personal matters. This is especially true when it comes to what the children’s living arrangements will be after the divorce, as the outcome can have major ramifications on parent-child relationships and the day-to-day lives of both the parents and the children. As you attempt to resolve the question of parenting time in your divorce, you should consider a few important questions.

Can You Reach an Agreement With Your Spouse?

If you and your spouse are on fairly good terms, you can work together to create a parenting time schedule that meets the needs of the whole family. Doing so can help you save time and stress during the divorce process, and it can also help you be better, more cooperative co-parents after the divorce is complete. As you work toward an agreement, it may be important to discuss who, if anyone, will continue to live in the family home, how parenting time can be balanced with each parent’s work schedule, how you will share holidays and special occasions, and how you will resolve any future disagreements.

What Are the Children’s Best Interests?

When creating a parenting plan, your top priority should be your children’s best interests. If you and your spouse create an agreement together, the court will need to review it to determine whether your children’s interests are protected. If you are not able to agree with your spouse, you will need to prepare to demonstrate in court that your proposed arrangement best meets your children’s needs. Among other things, it is important to consider the living environment in both parents’ homes, the proximity to the children’s school and other important activities, the children’s preferences and unique care needs, and the ability for the children to maintain a relationship with both parents. In some cases, it is also important to consider whether time with a parent could put the children at risk of physical, mental, or emotional harm.

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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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