Free 30 minute initial consultation
Buffalo Grove847-459-4448
Lois Kulinsky & Associates, Ltd.

Lake County and Cook County Divorce Law Blog

Taxes and alimony

Every year, you have to file your taxes, and if you pay or receive alimony in Illinois, you may be wondering how you report it to the IRS. The short answer is that you must report it, but the IRS may define alimony a bit differently than you or the courts. At Lois Kulinsky & Associates, Ltd., we understand that this can be a little difficult to understand. However, it is essential to make sure you are clear on how to report alimony on your taxes.

To begin with, the IRS defines alimony as money received as part of a divorce. This is a fairly broad definition that may include money you would not otherwise think of as alimony. Thankfully, there are specific requirements that qualify something as alimony. There should be no liability to pay further if the recipient passes away. It should not be child support or a payment made in cash. In addition, you cannot file a joint return or live with each other when the payment is made. Finally, the payment should not be specified as non-alimony in your divorce papers but must be made under an order from a divorce document.

The concept of parenting time in Illinois child custody

If you have children and are getting a divorce in Illinois, you will hear the term “parenting time.” This is a newer term being used instead of visitation. We at Lois Kulinsky & Associates, LTD, are familiar with parenting time and how it applies to divorce cases. It is important that you, too, become familiar with this term and what it means.

According to the Illinois General Assembly, parenting time is only used to refer to visitation times. It is the time when a parent has the children but only has non-significant decision-making power over them. This means you have the right to make decisions regarding the child about his or her safety and health, along with routine decisions, such as what he or she will eat. It is not the same as having legal custody of a child. For example, you are a father who gets to see his children every other weekend, but the children live with their mother. These weekends would be classified as parenting time.

Back child support and the Passport Denial Program

Those who are unable to pay child support may face various consequences, some of which can completely upend life. In Wheeling, and cities throughout Illinois, back child support can result in steep financial penalties and arrest. Moreover, unpaid child support could leave a non-custodial parent unable to use his or her passport if they wish to leave the country. For those who are passionate about travel or need to head overseas for business, this is often devastating.

According to the Office of Child Support Enforcement, non-custodial parents who have back child support in excess of $2,500 are entered into the Passport Denial Program, which bars them from using their passports or having their passport applications approved. Moreover, it is vital for parents who have found themselves in this position to understand that it may take a certain amount of time for them to have these restrictions removed, even after they have paid the child support they owe.

Legal services you may need in a high asset divorce

If you are considering a divorce in Illinois but have accounts, real estate, antiques or other personal possessions that are highly valuable or complex, then you will likely be facing a high asset divorce. At Lois Kulinsky & Associates, Ltd., we have experience with situations like this where there may be some special circumstances not found in other divorces. Depending on your finances and investments, there may be high asset divorce legal services that you will need.

If you have concerns about your spouse trying to hide assets, then you may need help searching for them. A financial investigation can be done to uncover any assets that would need to be divided under the law. Assistance can also be given to help you with dividing retirement accounts and evaluating and dividing stock options. These can both be tricky due to taxes and other regulations. With retirement accounts, you may need a qualified domestic relations order. When it comes to stock options, the tax obligations and responsibilities need to be spelled out.

Will divorce mediation make my marital split easier?

When you imagine going through a divorce, images of repeated battles over the house and the money may understandably play on the screen in your mind. The reality is that some family law disputes may simply be impossible for you and your spouse to resolve on your own, namely the distribution of assets, child custody or the division of property. When dealing with these types of matters in a contested divorce, divorce mediation can be a helpful solution in Illinois.

Bankruptcy and divorce

Bankruptcy and divorce often go hand in hand in Illinois. At Lois Kulinsky & Associates, LTD., we understand that debt is common in a divorce situation. Every situation is unique and bankruptcy laws are firm, so it is important to know what you may face when filing whether it is before or after a divorce.

Sometimes it is best to wait until after the divorce to file. There are financial limits on filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If together, you earn too much to file Chapter 7, then waiting until after the divorce makes more sense. If debts are mainly in only one of your names, then only that person would need to file, so you should wait until the divorce is final. On the other hand, if your debts are mainly joint debts, then it is probably best to file before your divorce because you will both need to claim bankruptcy to fully get rid of your financial obligations. In addition, filing together saves money because it is one case instead of two if you were to file separately.

Should we sell our house before we divorce?

When your marriage is ending in Illinois, you have to divide property and settle financial matters. One of the biggest property division issues you are likely to face is what to do with your family home. According to Bankrate, divorce does not affect the status of your mortgage as far as the lender is concerned. If the mortgage is in both of your names, then it will remain that way after the divorce unless you make moves to change it. One of your options is to sell it.

You might face issues when you try to sell your home, though. It is important to first assess whether you are upside down on your mortgage, which means you owe more than the house is worth. If this is the case, you will have to figure out how to pay the rest of what you owe when you sell your home. If you are not upside down, then you might be able to sell your home and pay off the mortgage. Any extra money could then be divided up with the rest of your assets in the divorce proceedings. Of course, there is always the chance that your home will sit on the market and not sell for quite some time. You will either have to delay your divorce until the home sells or consider another option.

How is child support supposed to be used?

If you are getting child support in Illinois, you may wonder what exactly the support is to be used for. It is probably likely that you do not get enough support to cover every expense your child has, but this is not how child support is intended to be used anyway. According to the State of Illinois Circuit Court of Cook County, child support is to help with essential expenses. These are things like housing, food and basic clothing. Extra expenses that are not considered essential are not supposed to be covered by child support.

In a perfect world, all your child would need are essential things, but that is not how it works in the real world. You will likely have expenses beyond what child support covers. For example, if you have a young child, you may need to pay for a babysitter. An older child may choose to join the school band and need an instrument. Perhaps your daughter is going to prom and needs money for a dress, hair, makeup and shoes. If you do not have money left over from your child support, then you are footing the bill for all of these expenses on your own.

What should I do if I cannot pay my child support?

Child support is a court-ordered obligation. The idea is that you are helping to pay for your children’s needs. Support orders in Illinois are made with a careful examination of your financial situation and that of your child’s other parent, along with the needs of your children. Sometimes, though, situations change, and you may find yourself at a point where you simply cannot afford to pay your child support.

If you fail to pay your support, it will accumulate a balance that you will owe. These arrears can then be taken from any wages you earn, including unemployment, or through seizure of any tax refunds. Any bank accounts you have in your name may also be garnished for the amount owed. You may have liens placed upon any assets you own, like a house. If you still fail to pay, your assets may be sold to satisfy the arrears. You also could face other issues, like losing your driver’s license or passport, or even being put in jail.