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Lake County and Cook County Divorce Law Blog

Playing hide and seek with marital assets? Don't face this alone.

It is no secret that money is one of the most contentious issues in any Illinois divorce. Emotions and disagreements can quickly derail positive discussions over a financial settlement, particularly when there are valuable assets or a significant amount of money at stake.

In some cases, one spouse may move to hide certain assets during the divorce proceedings, effectively preventing the other spouse from receiving his or her fair share of marital property. This is wrong, and it can lead to an unfair property settlement. If you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets, you would be wise to reach out to an experienced lawyer as soon as possible to protect your interests.

Can I avoid an order to pay alimony?

Once you are ordered by a judge in Illinois to pay alimony, your only option is to pay it or face serious consequences. However, before you ever get in front of a judge or into a divorce situation, there are things you can do to help reduce the chances you will be ordered to pay alimony.

The Illinois State Bar Association notes that the courts will often side with the spouse who is not working in terms of alimony. If you are working and your spouse is not, then to take care of him or her, you may be ordered to pay alimony. So, it is a good idea to encourage your spouse to find a job and make his or her own income.

What is the history of child support?

Many people in Illinois deal with the child support system. You may receive or pay child support due to a divorce or other situation where both parents are not in the home. There are many different situations today where child support is ordered, but today’s situations are much different than how things were when the system was put into place in the mid-1970s.

The child support system was formally put in place in 1975 under Gerald Ford’s presidency, according to NPR. It was strictly designed for divorced parents because there were hardly any situations where children were born outside of marriage. The main goal was to help prevent mothers from falling into financial trouble. In those days, if you were a mother, you usually had physical custody. If you were a father, you could expect to be ordered to pay support so the mothers could create a home life for the children that was the same as if you were still together.

Unallocated support and tax liability

In Illinois, you may end up paying unallocated support. This is when the court combines your child support and alimony payments together. At Lois Kulinsky & Associates, LTD, we review cases all the time to see if unallocated support would be a good option for our clients. In some situations, it can help you reduce tax liability. However, this is an area of some confusion, and understanding the tax laws is important to avoid issues with the IRS.

According to the Journal of Accountancy, if you pay alimony, you can deduct those payments on your taxes, and your ex-spouse would have to pay taxes on those payments because it is considered income. This is not true for child support because it is not considered income. This is where the confusion comes in for unallocated support.

Do fathers have rights to prevent an adoption?

In some cases, you do have the right to stop an adoption of your child in Illinois. You must first claim paternity of the child. This is often done when the mother voluntarily puts your name as the father on the birth certificate, but if that does not happen, it is up to you to claim your parental rights. The state has set up the Putative Father Registry, which according to Illinois.gov, is a database where you can make a claim of paternity and gain some rights.

By signing the Registry, you are saying you may be the father. It is not a final statement or proof that you are the father, though. After signing the Registry, you must then begin to establish paternity to gain full rights. Because the state requires notification of the father of a child before an adoption can be completed, getting your name in this database will allow you to be notified and enable you to take steps to claim your rights to the child if you choose to do so.

The debate over grandparents’ rights

Whether it is due to a divorce or an estrangement within the family, sometimes grandparents are not given the right to see their grandchildren. States and even the federal government have spoken out on this issue, including Illinois. However, there is a debate between those who feel grandparents should have rights to visitation with grandchildren and those who feel it should be left up to the parents to grant such rights.

The state of Illinois has set some specific rules regarding grandparents’ rights, according to the American Grandparents Association. The law does not, however, allow for rights for the father’s parents if paternity has not been established or if parental rights have been surrendered. In cases of adoption, grandparents have no legal claim to the child or children. The law does allow for visitation to be granted if a parent has passed away, parents are not living together or one of the parents has joined the petition for the grandparents’ rights.

Parenting together after divorce through joint custody

Joint custody is a type of custody arrangement that may allow two spouses to provide their children a strong relationship with both parents while still clearly outlining their individual parental rights and responsibilities.

Joint custody plans can be uniquely suited to the individual needs of the children and the family, but this type of custody arrangement is not ideal for every situation. Before you make any important decisions regarding custody or visitation, you would be wise to discuss all of the possible parenting options and your legal options with a seasoned family law attorney.

QDROs for spousal or child support

When a divorce becomes imminent, many people in Illinois begin to experience concerns about the financial impact that a divorce might have on their lives. This is understandable as there is no real way to split assets without losing something. Additionally, it is generally more expensive for people to live alone than as part of a married couple. Everything from daily living expenses to insurance costs may go up. Beyond that, the need to pay spousal support or child support can take an even bigger bite out of someone's monthly budget.

According to the United States Department of Labor, the use of a qualified domestic relations order may allow people to use their 401K funds to make child support or alimony payments. This may give them some relief as it may ease their current financial burden by not relying on their regular income to satisfy thees debts.

When children refuse to visit their non-custodial parent

Family dynamics are always difficult, but they can become even more so when a divorce occurs. Many children in this situation feel torn between their parents. Some children blame one parent for the situation. Emotions can run high. When this happens, children may refuse to visit their non-custodial parent. This leaves the custodial parent in a sticky situation.

According to The Spruce, letting a child refuse visitation can lead to legal issues, so a parent should always try to find out why the child has these feelings. This may involve just talking with the child to get to the heart of the issue or talking with the child’s other parent to determine what may be wrong or find a solution. It should be a group effort to figure things out and remedy the situation because the court expects that both parents will be involved in the child’s life.

Child support does not cover all costs of raising a child

During your divorce in Illinois, one of your top concerns is likely to be your children. Because you are going from one home to two, it can be difficult to spilt the income fairly to ensure the children are well-cared for. At Lois Kulinsky & Associates, LTD, we understand that challenges presented in this situation. That is why the courts order child support.

Child support is often one of the most debated aspects of a divorce. You may feel that you need more money to take care of the children while your spouse may be worrying about how he or she will afford daily living expenses for his or her new home. The bottom line is that it must be figured fairly so neither side is facing difficulties meeting basic expenses.