IL custody lawyerParenting is not easy under normal circumstances, but parenting during divorce tests the limits of even the most patient parents. Raising a child with a former spouse, especially if there are years of marital conflict preceding the divorce, is a very challenging endeavor. Recognizing this, parents getting divorced in Illinois are required to submit a detailed parenting plan for approval by an Illinois court. Here are three tips for getting the most out of your parenting plan.

Work Together

While the last thing you may want to do with your ex is sit down and discuss important aspects of your co-parenting future, the time and cooperation you invest in this process now can reward you for many years to come. Spouses who work together to create a parenting plan are more likely to be satisfied than spouses who wait and rely on a judge to create one for them. Even when it seems impossible, mediation can help high-conflict couples focus on specific issues to create a parenting plan that works for everyone.

Include as Many Details as Possible

While every parenting plan is required to address certain issues, such as where the child will spend her time, how parents will move a child between houses, and which parent will make certain important decisions on the child’s behalf, parents can include additional details. While it may initially seem counterintuitive, especially for contentious exes, creating a highly detailed parenting plan can actually prevent conflict in the future by anticipating potential problems and solving them ahead of time. Parents can also include a plan for what to do when they cannot reach an agreement in the future.

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IL divorce lawyerAs the average age of marriage in Illinois increases, many couples are getting married and living in a home that one spouse already owns. Years later, when the couple gets divorced, determining whether the home is marital property can prove trickier than anticipated. If you are considering divorce in DuPage County, IL, and are curious about how your home may be treated in the asset division process, read on.

Is a Home Personal or Marital Property?

If one spouse already owned a home outright before the marriage, and the other spouse moved in once the marriage began, the home will likely be seen as the personal property of the spouse who previously owned it. Generally speaking, assets and debt that were owned by one spouse before a marriage remain the property of that spouse after a divorce.

However, this can get complicated if the other spouse helped pay for significant renovations or if the house was not owned in full when the marriage began. Even if one spouse never technically paid for the home because he or she was engaged in the full-time effort of raising children if the house was paid off using marital money (which is any money earned by either spouse during the marriage), at least part of the house will likely be seen as marital property.

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Il divorce lawyerEconomic partnership is an unromantic but critical part of marriage. The longer a couple is married, the more intertwined their finances become. Their standard of living is dependent on one another, especially if one spouse gave up career prospects to raise a family, and when one spouse earns significantly more than the other, divorce can be financially devastating.

Illinois law provides support for divorced spouses in the form of spousal support, also known as alimony or spousal maintenance. While spousal support is not awarded in every divorce, it is often given when one spouse needs time to get back on their feet financially. Sometimes a couple has been married for so long that a person’s age, lack of education, or lack of work history makes it virtually impossible for them to become financially independent. When this happens, an Illinois court may order permanent alimony.

Understanding Spousal Support in Illinois

While spouses can agree on spousal support payments in a prenuptial agreement, the most common way that spousal support is awarded is through a judge’s order. Prenuptial agreements are relatively common in Millennial marriages, but couples who have been married for two decades or more are far less likely to have a prenup. Even if a couple has a prenup expressly giving up spousal support, a significant change in circumstances, like a disability, could make the prenup’s terms so unfair that an Illinois judge could throw out the prenup and award spousal support anyway.

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Il divorce lawyerIt is no secret that getting a divorce is a difficult process that is often fraught with conflict. But even divorcing spouses who get along relatively well may still be interested in keeping the process as peaceful as possible. Whether you anticipate a hostile divorce or are on good terms with your spouse, alternative dispute resolution strategies can be helpful. In fact, very few divorces in Illinois go to court because alternative dispute resolution is so successful that it is often ordered by judges before a case can proceed to trial.

There are two major types of alternative dispute resolution when it comes to divorce: Mediation and collaborative divorce. While they share some similarities, knowing the difference between these two strategies can help you decide which one is right for you.

A Mediator is Not Necessarily an Attorney

During the mediation process, a mediator will help spouses prioritize, stay focused, and remain results-oriented. Mediators are trained professionals who are intimately familiar with Illinois divorce laws, and they are often but not always attorneys. Conversations during mediation meetings are confidential and have the goal of moving a couple closer towards divorce by creating a divorce agreement that both spouses find fair and which is likely to be approved by an Illinois judge.

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IL divorce lawyerBefore major changes to Illinois’ child support laws in 2017, parents could calculate their child support obligations according to the paying parent’s income and how many minor children they had to support. Today, Illinois uses a new method called the “income shares” method. Parents getting divorced, as well as parents who are modifying an old child support order given before the change in the law, will have payments calculated according to both parents’ net incomes and parenting time allocation. If you are paying child support to more than one person, it is important to understand how the income shares method impacts you.

What Is Illinois’ Income Shares Method?

The income shares method combines both parents’ net income to determine what financial resources would be available to a child if the parents were still married. The combined net income and number of dependent children are then located on the Illinois income shares chart to determine the overall child support obligation for which both parents are responsible. Finally, payments are affected by the percentage of time a child spends with each parent.

How Do Other Payments Affect New Child Support Obligations?

To prevent someone from being overwhelmed or impoverished by multiple child support payments, a parent’s previous child support and spousal maintenance obligations are deducted from that parent’s gross income when calculating a new support obligation. For example, if someone makes $100,000 a year and is paying $20,000 in combined child and spousal support payments to an ex-wife, his net income for the purposes of a new child support order will be $80,000.

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