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Joliet Family Law Blog

Divorce: Marital issues that are often causal factors

Whether you've been married 20 or more years, or have not yet reached your 10-year anniversary, you and your spouse may have encountered challenges in your relationship. If so, you're definitely not the only Illinois couple to say they have had marriage problems. While some spouses are able to resolve such issues in time, others determine the most viable solution is to file for divorce.

When you make the decision to end your marriage, it not only affects you and your spouse but other people in your lives as well, especially if you have children. There are certain issues that might increase your chances for divorce more than someone who has not experienced such problems in a marital relationship.

Cooperative parenting after divorce eases transition for children

Parents getting a divorce in Illinois can apply strategies that ease the transition to two households for their children. The dissolution of a marriage naturally upsets children, but parents willing to make an extra effort to cooperate could reduce emotional burdens on their children during a disruptive time.

Children frequently worry that they did something to cause their parents to break up. They may even want to know if they can do anything to fix the situation for their parents. Parents should make an ongoing effort to convince children that they were not the reason for the divorce. When possible, it might reduce anxiety for children if they were not informed about the divorce until some or all details of the split have been established. This will reduce uncertainty and help children cope because parents can provide concrete answers about what will happen.

Marital finances and the divorce process

People in Illinois who are not knowledgeable about or involved in the family finances may be at a disadvantage during the divorce process. According to a survey by Fidelity Investments, it takes people around five years to recover emotionally and financially from divorce. However, the longest recovery was for people who did not participate in the day-to-day finances while they were married.

Many of them regretted taking this approach with 80% saying that after the divorce, they felt bad about this lack of involvement. It is also important to be involved in planning for long-term investments and retirement. While people generally do not enter a marriage anticipating divorce, a prenuptial agreement may be a good idea to identify what property will stay separate during the marriage and how any shared property may be divided. However, even couples who have a prenup may find that their finances get more complex after marriage. For example, an inheritance might be considered one person's property, but putting it in a shared account could change that. A postnuptial agreement can address these issues.

Tips for creating custody or visitation agreements

Generally speaking, it is easier for Illinois parents to create effective parenting plans when they are willing to communicate with each other. It is also important to take the needs of the child into account when doing so. For instance, a baby or toddler may want or need to spend more time with one parent than the other. Once a child is old enough to start school, it may be appropriate to allow extended visits with a noncustodial parent.

For a young child, an extended visit may simply be a few hours during the day or spending the night at a parent's house. Teenagers generally have less structured lives, which can make a parenting plan challenging. However, it is important to consider their social and academic needs when creating the parenting plan. Parents should also understand that a child will likely need time to deal with life after a divorce regardless of how old they are when it happens.

Divorce and retirement accounts

When couples in Illinois divorce, financial matters are often a primary concern. Issues that need to be resolved during the divorce process include property division, particularly if a couple owns a home or a business, the division of any existing joint debts, child support, alimony and asset division.

One aspect of asset division that can present challenges is what happens to the spouses' retirement accounts, including 401(k)s and IRAs. Funds that have been added to these accounts during the marriage may be considered marital property and are subject to division.

Financial issues that may cause you concern in divorce

When you decide that you no longer wish to stay in a marriage, it can be emotionally traumatic. Even if you and your spouse agree to part ways as friends, the fact that you both shared one of the most intimate experiences of a life journey means it is understandable that you might be emotionally affected by your decision to move on in life without each other. Especially, if you have children together, your relationship as co-parents might intensify the emotional challenges of filing for divorce.

In addition to emotional difficulties, you might also find yourself worrying about numerous financial issues as you prepare to negotiate a settlement. Divorce can definitely have a significant impact on your financial status, both in the present and also, as the future unfolds. The more you know about your rights, Illinois property division laws and child custody guidelines, the better equipped you'll be to make sure you receive a fair settlement.

Abduction and international child custody disputes

When people in Illinois develop international relationships, they may not think much about the complexities that can come with divorce or separation. After all, the dissolution of a marriage can lead to serious legal and financial disputes among couples of all nationalities. For parents, child custody issues are often contentious. This is one area where an international divorce and separation can be most complex. In general, the custody issues will be handled where the child lives, even if that may put one parent at a significant disadvantage.

Child custody disputes are a relatively common cause of child abduction, even when both parents live domestically. While still rare, these abductions are far more frequent than those involving strangers. If a parent takes the child to his or her home country, it can be more challenging to seek their return. The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction addresses these cases. Internationally, 98 countries are signatories of this multilateral treaty, giving it the full power of domestic law in each. Under the agreement, children who are abducted to a member country must be returned to their country of regular residence to handle custody issues.

How a prenuptial agreement can protect assets

Some couples in Illinois may be concerned about creating a prenuptial agreement. They might feel that they do not want to plan for the possibility of divorce, but a prenup can do more than simply protect the two individuals in the marriage. If one or both people have children from previous relationships, a prenup can help ensure that any assets brought into the marriage pass to those children if the parent dies.

Prenups can also help ensure that separate property brought into the marriage remains separate property. Usually, property that a person brings into the marriage is considered separate property. However, that designation can change if marital funds are mingled with the separate property. An example might be if one person owns a home at the time of the marriage. Using income earned during the marriage to pay the mortgage could mean that a portion of the home's value is considered shared property.

What a divorce financial specialist can provide

Some people in Illinois who are going through a divorce might want to consider adding a divorce financial specialist to their professional team. A divorce financial specialist can bring expertise to matters specifically relating to divorce that other financial professionals may not be able to provide.

For example, a divorce financial specialist can work with a couple during mediation or collaborative divorce. The home is often a particular area of contention in a divorce, and a divorce financial specialist can help them explore the ramifications of various options. If the couple cannot reach an agreement, a divorce financial specialist could be called on to give expert testimony on topics such as forensic accounting or what kind of taxes various settlement options might incur. A divorce financial specialist may also work with just one individual during the divorce. If the finances are particularly complex or the individual has not had much input into the marital finances, this could be particularly helpful.

How divorces impact businesses

When business owners in Illinois get divorced, it can take a toll on their companies. This may be true whether a former spouse may become a part-owner of the organization. During the divorce itself, an individual may have to split his or her focus between ending a marriage and running a company. If an enterprise is owned by multiple people, the end of a marriage could be a distraction for everyone responsible for running it.

Businesses with multiple owners may use buy-sell agreements to buy a divorcing partner's share of a company. However, without such an agreement, it may be necessary for a company to go into debt to keep it out of the hands of an owner's former spouse. Three owners of startup company GreenPal had to personally guarantee a $250,000 loan to buy out a fourth owner who was ending his marriage.

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