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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IL divorce lawyerIn an ideal world, love would be all we need to be happily married; in real life, financial conflict can lead to serious problems in a marriage. Whether one spouse refuses to live within their means, does not pursue gainful employment, or consistently fails to pay monthly bills on time, differences in financial behaviors and opinion about how to manage finances leads to many divorces in Illinois.

In some situations, the financial problems a couple faces may leave them contemplating bankruptcy as they are simultaneously filing for divorce. Understanding how divorce and bankruptcy can influence each other is essential for making wise decisions about your finances now and setting yourself up for success in the future.

Can We File for Divorce and Bankruptcy at the Same Time?

While a couple can technically file for divorce at the same time as they file for bankruptcy, bankruptcy is a federal process that will take precedence over divorce. A bankruptcy court may require a couple to finalize their debt problems before they finalize their divorce, which could delay the divorce and make it more difficult to address personal issues between spouses that may be causing the financial problems to begin with. An Illinois judge may allow the parts of the divorce that are unrelated to finances to move forward, but the final divorce decree will not be handed down until the bankruptcy is complete.

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DuPage County Divorce LawyerMany marriages in Illinois are ended either directly or indirectly through infidelity. When a spouse finds out their partner is cheating on them, they may feel an entire range of emotions, from surprise and anger to betrayal and confusion. One common question that spouses who have been cheated on have for their attorneys is whether they can pursue legal action against their cheating spouse or the spouse’s new partner. 

In previous years, the answer was yes. Illinois used to allow jilted spouses to pursue something known as “heartbalm torts”. Essentially, these were civil claims allowing a spouse to sue a third party for damages caused by infidelity. But in 2015, Illinois abolished these so-called “heartbalm torts.” However, if your partner’s infidelity contributed to the loss of marital funds before the divorce, or suggests they may be unfit for parental responsibilities, you may still be able to take action. 

Dissipation of Marital Assets

When one spouse uses marital assets for their own interests while the marriage is irretrievably breaking down, this may constitute a behavior known as “dissipation of marital assets.” Dissipation can occur after a couple has filed after divorce, but it can also happen when a marriage begins to permanently break down. 

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