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Lake County and Cook County Divorce Law Blog

This may seem like an unusual child custody arrangement

Illinois parents are always trying to find ways to make divorce easier and less stressful on their children. As such, some are turning to a more unusual child custody arrangement. Have you heard of bird nesting? It may work in your circumstances, even if only temporarily.

First, it may help to know what "bird nesting" is about. The children remain in the family home while the parents take turns living with them. This requires the parent not living in the home to have somewhere to live, which is, obviously, one of the major concerns regarding this arrangement. Another concern is that you do not receive a clean break from your future former spouse. On the upside, the children's lives remain relatively unaffected insofar as their schedules, access to friends and ability to remain in the same schools.

Making "I want a divorce" less painful

There are many ways in which the topic of divorce can come up for the first time between a couple. It may be something one of you blurts out in the heat of an argument, or something that you casually suggest when times are difficult. You may play "what-if" when discussing the demise of a friend's marriage, or the concept of divorce may simply be something the two of you understand is inevitable.

Whether the idea of ending your marriage has existed between you for years or your spouse has no idea of your desire to leave, when you are finally ready to take steps to begin the process, it will be a painful conversation. If you have given it every consideration and are at peace with your choice, the next step is to find a way to tell your spouse.

The role of counseling in a high asset divorce

Many Illinois spouses want to try couples counseling before they move forward with a divorce. Marriage counseling can be an effective way to save a relationship, and some couples experience a strengthened bond and renewed appreciation for one another as a result. However, some spouses avoid counseling based on fear that the therapist will suggest that the relationship cannot be saved, paving the way for a high asset divorce

The best way to enter couples counseling is by sitting down with the therapist and expressing one's concerns and hopes for how the process will work. If saving the marriage is a top priority, be clear about that from the very first meeting. If moving toward a divorce with dignity and respect for one another is the primary goal, communicate that clearly. 

Pets custody and property division

Pets are often considered to be part of the family. When talking about the kids, the family dog is included as a part of the discussion; when purchasing Christmas presents, this fluffy bundle of love receives his or her fair share. For this reason, when it comes to an Illinois couple's divorce, the family pet can become a point of controversy throughout property division negotiations.

If the family pet was owned by either the husband or wife prior to the marriage, the issue is typically less complicated. In the majority of circumstances, the pet is not considered marital property and would not necessarily be a part of the negotiation. However, things are not so clear cut if the beloved pet was purchased with marital assets.

What role dies Facebook play in property division?

Many Illinois spouses believe that their social media has nothing to do with their divorce. In reality, however, Facebook and other social media sites are becoming a commonly tapped source of information for divorce attorneys. Even property division can be directly impacted by Facebook. 

Perhaps the biggest way that Facebook factors into divorce is related to infidelity. Many affairs begin with a simple message to an old flame, or someone who played a role in one's past. Facebook offers the chance to gain a peek into the lives of people who would otherwise be firmly part of one's past. For far too many people, the ability to reach out and reconnect is just too tempting to ignore. An affair is often the end result, even if that was never the intent. 

High asset divorce and investment accounts

The division of assets is a primary consideration in the majority of Illinois divorces. In many cases, there are multiple investment accounts as well as real estate and other assets that need to be accounted for. In each instance, the value of each item and how each item is transferred can have a significant impact on the individual and his or her financial picture following a high asset divorce.

Perhaps one of the largest assets available to the divorcing couple is in the form of workplace retirement accounts. Over the years, each individual's retirement account has likely grown in value. In addition to the funds that the individual has contributed, the employer may have also contributed. This can result in a significant amount of money that may need to be considered in the divorce settlement.

Getting back on your financial feet after a divorce

No matter how many of your friends have gone through a divorce, their tales of woe did not begin to prepare you for your own divorce. It is one thing to watch it happen to a friend's marriage or to a character on TV, but when it is happening to you, you can't know what to expect.

This is not only true during the emotional upheaval of the divorce, but you may be concerned that you will meet the same confusing uncertainty when things are finalized and you are on your own. You may have special concerns about how to get yourself financially on track after your divorce. Fortunately, you can take some steps to try to improve the chances of having a solid financial post-divorce future.

Property division involving family business can be challenging

Deciding what to do with a family-owned business in a divorce can be challenging for divorcing couples in Illinois. Regardless of the size of the company, dealing with it in property division could be a contentious issue. Breaking the emotional tie and putting on the business hat might be the hardest part. Gathering all the business records and obtaining a current value of the business will likely be the place to start because a valuation will be necessary regardless of the way in which the division is handled.

Matters to consider will include whether the business was established before or after the wedding date. The spouse who owned the company before the marriage will likely be entitled to its value at the time of the marriage. However, growth that took place since then might be subject to division between the spouses. Furthermore, each spouse's involvement, contribution and investment in the business will play a role.

Postnuptial agreement effective in establishing property division

The typical Illinois couple is waiting longer to get married. As a result, each individual has likely become established in a profession and begun to accumulate assets. In some instances, one or both individuals have already experienced another serious relationship and may also bring children into the new marriage. All of this adds up to the reality that each individual may have assets that should be treated as separate property rather than marital assets when it comes to property division in case of death or divorce.

One way to address these issues is through the use of a postnuptial agreement. This agreement, which is executed after the marriage has taken place, addresses that fact that there are nonmarital assets that should be treated in a manner other than what the state may deem appropriate. For example, although the current family home is occupied by both husband and wife, it may have been owned by one of the individuals prior to the marriage. If this individual has a child, he or she may prefer that the home pass to the child rather than the current spouse.

Property division and the mistakes people often make

Mistakes happen all the time. Some mistakes are minor with minor consequences; others can be costly both emotionally and financially. For the Illinois resident considering divorce, there are a number of errors that can be costly when it comes to property division.

One of the first mistakes that individuals make is not being aware of all assets that can be considered as marital property. In many cases, real estate, investment accounts, retirement accounts and bank accounts are held in the spouse's name. Yet, these assets were accumulated during the course of the marriage. As such, it is likely that these assets are actually marital property.