wheaton divorce lawyerWhen you are older and you get a divorce, there are many financial uncertainties that you must face. Getting divorced when you are close to retirement or in retirement can be scary. How will your retirement accounts be handled? Will you still be able to retire at the age you are planning on retiring? These are questions that run through the minds of divorcing spouses at any age, but they are especially concerning for older divorcees. Thankfully, the Social Security Administration (SSA) provides ways that you can claim retirement benefits through of your ex-spouse’s retirement benefits, without lowering the amount your spouse receives.

Qualifying for Social Security Benefits

If you are divorced, you may be able to claim benefits from your spouse’s work record, even if you did not work yourself. However, there are certain requirements that you must meet before you are eligible to receive benefits. You may be able to claim these Social Security benefits if:

  • You were married to your ex-spouse for at least 10 years or longer.

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dupage county divorce lawyerAn engagement ring is an important part of getting married for many people. Engagement rings have a long history, dating all the way back to ancient Roman times when they were made out of things like ivory or iron. Diamond engagement rings did not become popular until the late 1940s when De Beers, a British jeweler, launched one of the most successful ad campaigns in history. The world became convinced that indeed, “Diamonds are forever,” making diamond engagement rings the “standard.” Now, the average American spends around $7,750 on an engagement ring, making it a valuable piece of marital property. One of the questions that many divorcing couples have during the property division process is about the engagement ring. Who gets to keep it?

Property Division Laws

Illinois makes a distinction between marital and nonmarital property during divorce. Illinois law states that any and all marital property is subject to division. Marital property includes any property that either spouse acquired during the marriage or any debt that either of them might have taken on. Nonmarital property is anything that either spouse acquired prior to the marriage. However, there are exceptions to that rule. Property that was acquired through inheritance, property acquired in exchange for that property, property acquired as a gift, and property that is excluded by a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is not part of the marital estate.

Determining Who Gets the Ring 

Illinois law states that gifts are the property of the person who receives them, even in a divorce and even if the gift was exchanged between spouses. A gift that either spouse receives at any point is considered to be nonmarital property. It is customary to give an engagement ring before the marriage, with the intent that the recipient will go through with their promise of betrothal. As long as the marriage happens, the engagement ring is the irrevocable property of the person who received it. 

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Posted on in Marriage

Wheaton family law attorneyMarriage is a dream for many people, but for others, it is something that is not necessary. While some people need a ceremony to show their love in front of friends and relatives, others prefer to simply live together and act as a married couple without undergoing the legal process. When a couple wishes to live together but not get married, it is sometimes known as a common-law marriage. While it does work for many couples, any couple that enters into this type of relationship must understand what their rights are, and how to protect them.

What is a Common Law Marriage?

Not every couple that lives together is considered to be in a common-law marriage. In most cases, people that want to be considered common law must:

  • Cohabitate for a certain period of time

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Wheaton IL family law attorneyAlimony, formally known as spousal maintenance in Illinois, is sometimes ordered by a judge when two people get divorced. Spousal maintenance refers to payments one spouse will make to another, and it can be one of the most contentious issues in divorce cases. However, it is also one of the most misunderstood. If you are going through a divorce and want to seek spousal maintenance, or defend against claims for it, it is important to understand the truth behind some of the myths surrounding it.

Myth: Spousal Maintenance is Permanent

Spousal maintenance is meant to help one party get back on their feet after a divorce, and as such, it is usually ordered for a fixed time period rather than indefinitely. Maintenance can also end when the recipient remarries or starts living with a new partner, or after a petition for modification once the recipient is able to support themself. In some cases, spousal maintenance may be awarded only temporarily during the divorce proceedings, and payments will stop once the case is final.

Myth: Spousal Maintenance Orders are Final

It is true that spousal maintenance orders are legally binding. However, that does not mean the terms are always set in stone. When a spouse experiences a significant change in circumstances, one of the parties can petition the court to modify the original order. For example, if the individual paying maintenance loses their job and can no longer afford to make these payments, they can ask the court to modify the order to reflect that change.

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DuPage County family law attorneyThe divorce process is often a long and difficult one for the people going through it. It is no wonder, then, that once it is over, the parties involved feel relieved knowing their divorce decree is final. However, while the orders included in a divorce decree are legally binding, that does not mean they cannot be changed in the future. 

The courts do not take post-decree modifications lightly, but it is possible to obtain one when a person’s situation changes significantly. If you have gotten a divorce and now wish to modify one or more of the orders, below are some of the most important things you should know about these modifications.

Three Terms that Require Modification

In most cases, there are three issues that may require post-divorce modifications. These are:

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