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Lake County and Cook County Divorce Law Blog

What is the role of the “standard of living” in a divorce?

When you are going through a divorce in Illinois, you will likely hear the term “standard of living.” It is important to understand what this means and how it relates to the different areas of your divorce agreement, especially alimony. This standard is used to help make many decisions, and the court relies on it to be fair and just in how it allocates your assets and assigns spousal support.

The Huffington Post reports that standard of living refers to the economic level of life you were used to enjoying when married. In general, it is the aim of the court to help both parties maintain their same lifestyle after the divorce. This is not possible in some cases where income is not high enough, but in high income situations, it is possible. Steps are usually taken to ensure the standard of living remains unchanged.

Is a prenuptial agreement really all that necessary?

Before two people walk down the aisle, they naturally expect their future marriage to work out. However, sometimes the best-laid plans for a marriage go awry, and divorce is inevitable. Some of the biggest areas of contention in a divorce involve the splitting of assets.

This is why prenuptial agreements are so valuable. They essentially allow a couple in Illinois to dictate their affairs ahead of time rather than having to rely on a judge to do this for them down the road. A prenup can end up saving you time, stress and money in the long run.

Who gets the pets in a divorce?

If you are getting a divorce in Illinois and you own pets, you may be wondering what will happen to them. According to Forbes, the bottom line when it comes to the law is that pets are considered property. As property, they are distributed the same as any other asset you and your spouse own. Obviously, though, there are additional considerations because dogs and cats are living beings that require care and cannot usually be sold to split the money.

Ideally, you and your spouse should come to an agreement about the custody of any animals. However, this can be difficult in some cases. It is common for one spouse to try to use a dog or cat as leverage, especially if he or she knows his or her spouse cares a lot for the animal. If an agreement cannot be reached, the court usually steps in.

Property division and taxes

As with any other situation involving money or assets, there are tax implications when property is divided during a divorce in Illinois. As property changes hands or income is increased or decreased, each spouse may have to adjust his and her tax obligations.

According to the Journal of Accountancy, if property is transferred from one spouse to the other during the divorce, there may be taxes due on the transaction. In general, property that is transferred is susceptible to a gift tax or a taxable gain. However, when such transfers are included as part of the divorce decree, they may not be subject to taxes.

What are some important things to know about alimony in Illinois?

The alimony laws in Illinois underwent some changes in 2015 and 2016. It is important that you understand the laws if you are trying to get alimony in your divorce case. According to the Illinois State Bar Association, the spousal maintenance laws are rooted in ensuring affordability for the paying party.

To begin with, there is a formula that is used by the judge in your case to determine how much support you will receive. However, this formula is only used if you meet specific requirements. If you or your spouse has another family to support, meaning one of you were married before or pay child support or alimony to a former spouse, then this formula is not used. Also, the formula can only be used if your combined income is below $250,000.

Dealing with a family-owned business in a divorce

Getting a divorce in Illinois is difficult, but it can get even more complex when you and your spouse own a business. Not only do you have to worry about ending your marriage but now you also have to determine what steps to take with the business. At Lois Kulinsky & Associates, LTD, we recognize that you have several options and that you need to understand them in order to know how to proceed.

Because the law requires equal distribution of your marital assets, the business will have to be divided equally between you and your spouse. You could sell the business and spilt the revenue. Another option is for one of you to retain the business and keep running it while the other spouse receives assets equal to his or her portion of the business.

You can't protect assets if you don't know what they are

It happens all the time in marriage. One spouse takes over the role of carrying out certain tasks and duties while the other focuses on other areas of expertise. For instance, how many Illinois couples do you know where one person acts as the resident mechanic, or one spouse does all the cooking while the other takes care of lawn maintenance and trash pickup? Even more common are marriages where one spouse deals with all things finance-related, including paying bills, investing money, purchasing insurance and other related issues.

This may all be well and good so long as a marriage is working; however, if someone files for divorce at some point, let's hope it's the one who knows where all the money is. Otherwise, it may be a tad bit challenging to protect your assets if you don't even know what you own in the first place. This is one of many reasons it's far better to be fully informed, if not actively involved, in all financial matters while married.

How can I uncover an offshore account in a divorce?

When you are involved in a high asset divorce in Illinois, there is always a concern about your spouse possibly hiding assets. This can be done in a variety of ways, but a common approach is to put money in an offshore account. You have to uncover the money if you wish for it to be considered by the court when your assets are divided, so you can get what is owed to you under the law.

According to Forbes, setting up an offshore account usually involves getting a second passport and visiting the country to open the account. If your spouse gets a second passport, it will be done secretly so he or she can visit the country with the country while remaining undetected. Other aspects of maintaining this account are also done secretly and through means that can be difficult to trace.

Custody regulations for moving to a different location

After a divorce in Illinois, one parent is typically granted physical custody of any children. This parent is who the children live with the majority of the time and who has general decision-making responsibly over the children on a day-to-day basis. If the parent decides to move and relocate the children, certain steps may need to be followed.

According to the Illinois General Assembly, a parent who wishes to relocate with the children must give notice at least 60 days in advance. The notice must be signed by the other parent and submitted to the court. Not providing this notice can be cause for the court to intervene. The other parent may object to the move, which would also trigger a court intervention.

Child support modification process

Illinois child support orders are not set in stone. According to the Department of Health and Family Services, substantial changes in circumstances can because for a child support modification request. In addition, every case can be modified every three years. Support may be increased, reduced or, in some cases, ended. First, a case must be reviewed, which involves checking into financial information and other related facts, such as employment.

According to Illinois Legal Aid, changes in a child support order can only be made by going to court. It takes a judge to rule on any changes for them to be enforced. In addition, if it is not time within the three-year window for a modification, there must be substantial changes in order to get the case before a court. Changes that would fall under this definition include the loss of a job, paternity being called into question, an increase or decrease in income and changes in the needs of the child.