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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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Should I Hire a Private Investigator for My Divorce?Some couples are lucky enough to experience an amicable divorce — the asset division may be mutually agreed upon, spousal maintenance costs may not bring up arguments, and determining how to share parental responsibilities may be a breeze. However, this is not the common divorce experience shared by most couples. Some couples may disagree on certain areas of the divorce while others may not be able to agree on a single portion throughout the process. For those who are on bad terms with their former spouse, they may seek out assistance from a third-party: a private investigator.

What Can a PI Do For Me?

Private investigators are professionals whose job involves researching and verifying information on any subject that their client needs them to. In the case of divorce, PIs will place their focus on their client’s spouse to help garner any information that may be useful throughout the divorce proceedings. Divorce investigations will typically focus on infidelity, hidden assets, and domestic violence.

  1. Infidelity: The state of Illinois does not require couples to provide grounds for their divorce aside from showing irreconcilable differences. Having a private investigator prove that your spouse is cheating on you may not be required to file for divorce, but it may help you in the asset division process. It is common for those having an affair to spend money on their new significant other. With proof that your spouse has been dissipating marital assets, you may be able to receive a higher amount as compensation when dividing your assets.
  2. Hidden Assets: In highly contentious divorces, it is not uncommon for someone to attempt to conceal their assets and keep them from their spouse. This may include keeping a secret bank account or giving friends a large sum of money in the form of a “gift” to be given back upon the finalization of your divorce. A PI can research into the financial history of your spouse to see if any asset concealment is occurring. Not only will this keep you from losing out on your own money, but it may also warrant you a larger division to make up for the unethical actions of your spouse.
  3. Domestic Violence: Unfortunately, domestic violence is all too common in homes across the U.S. Because most of this abuse occurs behind closed doors, it can be difficult to prove in a court of law. Many victims keep the abuse a secret out of fear of backlash or misbelief by the court. Hiring a private investigator to collect proof of the abuse is a constructive way of providing the court with proof while also avoiding possible violent backlash. This proof can help you obtain an order of protection and assist you in any conversations about parenting plans.

Call a Joliet Divorce Lawyer for Help

In order to be prepared for your divorce, it is important to go into the proceedings with support from an experienced legal team. Not all divorces can be as clean-cut as we wish them to be, and oftentimes you may need a private investigator’s help in addition to your attorney. The Foray Firm has worked with couples throughout Illinois for the past 10 years and has provided its clients with information about private investigators if their situation warrants additional help. We work tirelessly to help all of our clients move forward with their lives by putting their best foot forward. If you are considering filing for divorce, contact our Will County divorce attorneys at 312-702-1293 for a free consultation.

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Should I Get a Home Appraisal Before Filing for Divorce?Deciding what to do with your family’s home after your divorce can be an emotional decision to make. You likely have a number of happy memories over the past years that are tied to your home. Oftentimes, one party will keep the home while the other will move out and find a new place to live. Deciding who will remain in the home may not be a hard choice, but divvying up your other assets and properties in a fair manner may prove difficult. A couple’s house is likely the most valuable asset that they have, both personally and financially, so the person who remains in the home is receiving the largest asset in the divorce. Since Illinois is an equitable division state when it comes to asset and property division, the other spouse must receive assets of similar value in return.

What is a Home Appraisal?

A home appraisal is a financial estimate of your home from a licensed professional. Appraisers will determine the fair market value of your home by looking at sales of similar properties in your area over the past few months. Typically, they will look at the selling price of three recently sold properties and the asking price of three properties currently on the market. The appraiser will average the costs, make adjustments based on characteristics of your home, and determine a fair market value for your property. 

Why Do I Need One?

Appraisals can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several hundred dollars, and the price tag can often stray people away from getting their home financially evaluated. What many do not realize is that a home appraisal can save them thousands of dollars at the end of the day. It is important to know the true value of your home for equitable distribution during the property division process. Some couples may do their own property estimate by looking at the prices of properties nearby, but they fail to take into account the various other factors that can affect their home’s value. In contentious divorces, both spouses may consider getting their own appraisal done to ensure the accuracy of the presented value. If two appraisals are done, a judge will typically look at both numbers, see if they are different, and average the two.

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How to Conduct Yourself in Court During Your Parenting CaseFor many, a divorce may be their first experience in a courtroom with a judge making decisions for them. While you have probably seen television shows that depict court proceedings, this is not an accurate representation of court and the characters’ actions are likely something that you should avoid following. No matter the reason you are in court, your conduct can greatly affect the outcome of the case. This is especially crucial for those discussing parenting arrangements for their children. In these parenting cases, the way you hold yourself is your first impression on the judge and likely the most important. Courtrooms and legal proceedings often make those who are unfamiliar with the process nervous and uncomfortable, causing them to act differently than they do in normal life. While you may not be able to keep yourself from being on edge, keep in mind the following tips that can help you present yourself in a good light:

  1. Clothes Matter: In a similar fashion to a job interview, your outfit can be used to gauge your personality, commitment to the case, and overall capacity to appear professional when necessary. It is important to wear business attire to court — no jeans, t-shirts, or sweatpants. By dressing for the occasion, you are showing the judge that you take this court proceeding seriously and are able to put yourself together when necessary: an important parenting quality. It may be a good idea to show another person your chosen outfit before showing up in court.
  2. Timeliness Is Key: Being on time to your court hearing and being present shows your respect for the legal team working on your case and that you take the matters of parenting seriously. This is also reflective of your ability to make time for your children, even if it means showing up to court. The judge will be analyzing all of your words and movements, and being on time says “I care and I will be there for my child.”
  3. Respect the Judge: There are a few things that those involved in a court case should know before the hearing starts. Everyone in the courtroom should stand when the judge enters or leaves the courtroom. This is age-old etiquette that is still followed today. Anytime the judge speaks to you, stand and respond, calling them “Your Honor.” They will let you know when it is your time to speak, and you should avoid speaking out of turn. Showing disrespect to the judge will only work against you in the decision making process.

Call a Naperville Parenting Attorney Today

The best way to prepare for your courtroom hearings is to speak with an experienced attorney. They will be able to provide you with the basic etiquette information as well as any additional tips for the particular judge working on your case. Because they are familiar with the judges in the area, they will likely have some hidden tips that they can provide you with that cannot be found elsewhere. The Foray Firm has extensive experience working in the family courts throughout the south suburbs of Chicago and we assist our clients before every courtroom appearance. If you are fighting for your rights as a parent, contact our Joliet divorce lawyers at 312-702-1293 to schedule a free consultation.

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