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Orland Park divorce lawyers

Divorce is stressful and it is rare that anyone walks away financially unscathed. Splitting up means leaving a combined household and having to set up two different homes and lives. It also means assets and debts will be divided, and despite the best efforts of the court, individuals often feel shortchanged. However, there are some steps a person can take in order to take less of a financial hit in a divorce. 

Know Your Assets and Debts (And Your Spouse’s)

Not every husband or wife is totally honest about what they own or what they owe. If you are faced with divorce, one of the first things to do is account for all bank accounts, investments, retirement plans, insurance policies, etc. that your spouse has. You also need to know where you stand on debt, like credit cards, taxes, and medical bills. One way to go about finding any hidden items is by getting a copy of your spouse’s credit report. If there is anything you do not recognize, you will need to dig deeper, perhaps with the help of a forensic accountant.

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Oak Forest divorce and bankruptcy lawyerNo matter how much money you have, you are almost guaranteed to take a financial hit when you get divorced. Even if it is just because you are splitting one household into two, you will likely have less money for bills, especially those that are growing due to snowballing credit card interest charges. If you and/or your spouse have spent the last few years racking up debt, even if you split it in your decree, then you may feel like there is no light at the end of the financial tunnel. Should you consider filing bankruptcy after your divorce? Everyone’s situation will be different, so it is important to understand your options.

Splitting Debts and Assets

Not all divorces are equal. If at all possible, you will want to try to work out a reasonable solution with the other party. If one of you has a higher income, that may mean they will be expected to take on more of the debt. If your spouse has run up credit cards and other debts on a joint account, it may be difficult to determine who actually made all those purchases. There are myriad scenarios when it comes to the finances involved in a divorce, especially if the marriage was a longer one. 

Besides splitting households, you will also be entering into territory that may be new to both you and your ex-spouse. You may have the added responsibility of child support and/or alimony. Therefore, if there is any way for you to go through your assets and bills together and come up with fair solutions, it is imperative that you do so. Your attorney can help you determine what solutions make sense, but you may want to consider mediation if you cannot come to an agreement in a timely manner.

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Oak Forest family law attorney guardian ad litemA Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is a legally appointed attorney who is assigned by a judge in child custody cases at the request of one parent or the other (or their attorney). The GAL is supposed to act as the legal representative of the child or children. They are in a position to spend time interviewing the parents, children, and other parties involved in the case, and they will then report directly back to the judge.

Should I Request a GAL?

While you may feel that your children will be better off with a GAL involved in your case, you must understand that the GAL is not supposed to act as an advocate for either parent, and they will focus instead on the children’s needs. They are tasked with legally determining the best interests of the child. Even though you and the GAL both have your child’s best interests at heart, there may be many negatives to involving a GAL in your case.

If you are financially unstable, for example, a GAL may see that as a sign that you may have trouble providing for your children. If you report concerns to him or her that are unfounded, then the GAL may see you as overly emotional and/or acting out of anger rather than out of care for your children. The GAL may be focused on pursuing specific information that he or she knows the judge will want to know, rather than listening to the issues that you feel are important.

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Tinley Park divorce and pets lawyerIn the not-so-distant past, many people would have laughed at the idea of a pet’s custody being decided in court as part of a divorce settlement. However, last year, Illinois was the second state to pass a law stating that pet custody can indeed be determined in court, based on what the judge feels is best for the pet. Rather than still treating the pets as property, like an inanimate object or financial asset, your family pet may now be the subject of a custody case.

Proving You Are the Superior Pet Parent

Much like in a child custody agreement, judges will now have the authority and responsibility to consider the best living situation for the pets in a divorce case. If your soon-to-be-ex-spouse is ready to fight for custody, you will need to be prepared to prove your worth as a pet owner. Questions such as who took the animal to the vet, who typically cares for the pet, who has the better-suited home for the pet, and more may be considered. You will want to gather evidence, as you would with any other contested part of your divorce, to prove that you are the better pet parent or that the other party cannot give your animal friend the life that he or she deserves.

Coming to an Agreement

In some cases, divorced spouses may end up having to split custody, just like they would with children. In these cases, it is also a good idea to reach a legal agreement ahead of time about who will pay for vet bills and make decisions about veterinary care, where the pet will stay when either or both spouses will be traveling, etc.

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Orland Park Child Support Lawyer

Financial circumstances can change dramatically from the time a couple divorces through when their children turn 18 years old. One or both parents may get new jobs or become unemployed. Either parent may get a raise or take a pay cut. Any of these factors, along with numerous others, can affect the parents’ levels of responsibility for providing support for their children. 

In addition, something may happen that changes the needs of a child and leads to their care being either more or less expensive. Child support may be modified or even eliminated completely, depending on the circumstances.

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Tinley Park bankruptcy attorneyThe word “bankruptcy” has a lot of negative connotations, but when your debts are piling up, and there is no relief in sight, bankruptcy may indeed be your best option. It can be a great stress relief to get your creditors off your back and start fresh. However, the process can also be confusing, especially for those who have never been through it before. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can help you decide which type of bankruptcy works for you (typically Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 for individuals) and guide you through the entire legal process.

Chapter 7

In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a debtor may end up wiping their liability slate clean. Usually, this works for those with large credit card debt or medical bills and not enough income to cover the expenses. Although part of the process includes a liquidation of the debtor’s assets, some assets can be exempt, and an attorney can help you determine which assets you may have. Often, debtors do not have anything else of significant value, so their bankruptcies fall into the “no-asset” category. 

The discharge for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy often only takes a few months, and the filer can move along without any more creditors calling them. The downside, of course, is the impact on the filer’s credit score, and the fact that the bankruptcy will remain on his or her credit report for 10 years. Still, most people can apply for and receive credit within that time period. They may be required to pay higher interest rates or have lower credit limits.

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Oak Forest estate planning lawyer power of attorneyWhen planning your estate and drafting a will, sometimes it will be necessary to create a power of attorney as well. How do you know when it is needed or whom you should choose? Although you may be doing well now, there may come a time as you get older or face unexpected medical issues that you will no longer be able to take care of your own bills and properties, and you may not be able to make decisions about your own personal care. At that time, it will be of utmost importance to have someone you trust to take care of these things for you.

What Does a Power of Attorney Do?

A power of attorney can be vital in protecting you and your assets. When you create a power of attorney agreement, you will name an agent who is authorized to make decisions for you, but your agent will only have as much power as you have laid out for him or her. In other words, you can choose for your agent to simply take care of your bills and property if you are somehow incapacitated, or you can opt for him or her to have more power, such as the authorization to give gifts or set up trusts on your behalf. 

You may also select a power of attorney to take care of your healthcare needs. Adults may create a power of attorney to name an agent who can manage their medical care and personal needs if they become incapacitated or unable to make their own healthcare decisions. As with a power of attorney for property, a power of attorney for healthcare can limit the decisions your agent can make or provide them with general authority to meet your needs.

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Posted on in Divorce

Orland Park divorce lawyersDivorce often brings intense conflict and emotional stress that most people have never experienced before in their life. When a marriage fails, the disappointment and strain that accompany the divorce process can be overwhelming. Spouses are left to ponder a future without one another amidst worries about child custody, child support, visitation, spousal maintenance, the division of marital property, and more.

This stress is compounded when spouses are unable to work together to craft a divorce agreement and instead fight over the related issues in a courtroom. While many people who go through divorce litigation have no other alternative, others – even on less than cordial terms – can avoid court through collaborative divorce.

What Does Collaborative Divorce Mean?

Similar to mediation, collaborative divorce is when spouses reach agreements on the elements that go into a divorce decree through joint cooperation. Unlike mediation, which utilizes a neutral party that works together with spouses, collaborative divorce involves the spouses and their respective attorneys. The most critical facets are addressed in four-way, face-to-face sessions, while lesser items can be negotiated through the parties via phone or email.

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Posted on in Divorce

Illinois divorce attorneysIt can be one of the worst feelings for an unsuspecting spouse who receives notice that the person they are married to has filed for divorce. Even if you had previous suspicions that they were not engaged in your relationship like they once were, nothing truly prepares you for the day the devastating news arrives.

If you were blindsided by your spouse’s divorce filing, you might be asking yourself what you can do to preserve your marriage, and whether you can fight it in court. The hard truth is – attempting to do so would likely be a costly waste of time.

Fighting Divorce in Illinois

The bottom line is that while it takes two people to get married, it only takes one willing spouse to get a divorce. Marriage is a legal contract entered into by a couple, but both parties do not have to agree to end the agreement.

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Posted on in Divorce

Orland Park alimony attorneyA tax policy related to divorce and in place for seven decades will end at the end of this year as part of the federal tax overhaul of 2017. For divorces after Dec. 31, those who pay spousal maintenance can no longer deduct alimony payments from their taxes. Also, maintenance recipients will no longer declare alimony as taxable income. 

Because this change to the tax code is expected to reduce the amount of money divorced couples have on hand to split between them, divorce lawyers say they have seen a noticeable increase in filings as the year-end deadline approaches.

How Alimony Works with New Law

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1917 that alimony was not tax deductible, a rule that changed in the 1940s. The new law will pay a small portion of the $1.5 trillion in tax cuts scheduled over the next decade, with $6.7 billion added to the U.S. Treasury.

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Posted on in Divorce

Illinois paternity lawyersPaternity is the legal and biological relationship between a child and a father. In Illinois, you must establish paternity for a father’s name to appear on a child’s birth certificate, and if you need to set up the allocation of parental responsibilities (formerly custody), child support, and parenting time (formerly visitation) if the parents are unmarried, divorced, or not in a civil union.

To establish a child’s eligibility for health and life insurance, Social Security benefits from a disabled or deceased parent, veteran’s benefits, or an inheritance, paternity must be certified. Sometimes this is done easily, while other circumstances prove difficult. For either scenario, an experienced family law attorney can help.

Establishing Paternity in Illinois

When a couple or two uninvolved individuals agree that paternity is certain, they can complete and file the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form through the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). You can get this form through your county clerk, health office, an Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services aid office, or via the IDPH website. For proper submission, the VAP must be signed in front of a witness who is age 18 or older.

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Illinois alimony lawyersIn divorce, spouses sometimes require an additional influx of income supplied by their ex-spouse as they restart on their own. In Illinois divorce cases, this was once referred to as alimony or spousal support but is now called spousal maintenance.

During the divorce process, spouses who will pay maintenance and those who will receive it often wonder what amount they can expect. Starting January 1, 2019, a change in Illinois law will impact that figure. To ensure you either receive or pay the justified amount, you need a skilled family law attorney, like those at Anderson and Associates, P.C., who can serve as your advocate throughout your divorce proceedings.

Here is a look at how spousal maintenance will be figured starting at the beginning of next year:

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Posted on in Divorce

Illinois adoption attorneysThe decision to adopt a child can be one of the most rewarding experiences imaginable. It can also be one of the more complicated and time-consuming processes you ever go through.

Adoption is a legal process that requires careful planning and adherence to procedure. For adoptions through the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS), they require you to obtain an adoption lawyer approved by their agency, like those at Anderson and Associates, P.C. You do not have to worry about fees, as DCFS pays for the applicable attorney costs so you can focus on the new addition to your family.

How Long Does Adoption Take?

DCFS facilitates more than 1,500 adoptions a year. Following an initial screening and in-home visit, the first step in adoption is to become a licensed foster parent, so a child can legally be placed with your family. Licensure typically takes one to two months, then DCFS works to match a single child or siblings with your family. Once that placement is complete, final adoption approval by DCFS and the court usually occurs after six months.

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Posted on in Divorce

Orland Park mediation attorneysWhen divorce goes from probability to certainty for a couple, thoughts of a prolonged court battle and potential financial difficulties often come to mind. For soon-to-be-ex spouses who want to avoid those scenarios, mediation is a potential solution that can also foster a positive partnership moving forward.

What is Divorce Mediation?

Divorce mediation is a voluntary process that lets couples discuss and plan their futures in respectful joint cooperation. By using a trained divorce mediator, you can achieve a divorce settlement that benefits both parties while maintaining control throughout. It is available for married couples and domestic partners, regardless of income level or if children and custody are involved.

Intense emotions are understandable during divorce. You do not have to be 100 percent amicable to go through mediation. You simply need to enter into the process willing to negotiate in good faith. 

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Posted on in Bankruptcy

Orland Park bankruptcy lawyerWhile no one wants to declare bankruptcy, there are cases in which it can be the best choice for a family’s long-term financial well-being. Despite the stigma that is attached to bankruptcy, it can help a person or family get a fresh financial start, allowing them to escape a difficult financial situation that may have occurred through no fault of their own, but simply because of bad luck.

If money issues have created an inescapable burden, Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy can provide relief for those who qualify. A bankruptcy attorney can tell you if either of those options might work for you, or if you should go another route.

Should I File for Bankruptcy?

Divorce, loss of employment, sizable medical bills, potential home foreclosure, and unmanageable credit card debt are common reasons why people declare bankruptcy. However, before you consider taking this step, you will likely want to exhaust all other possible avenues.

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Illinois bankruptcy lawyersLike most things in life, bankruptcy can be either a negative thing or a positive thing - it all depends on how you handle it. There are certain things that you can and cannot do when filing for bankruptcy. Violating bankruptcy laws can result in criminal charges, meaning you could be subject to up to five years in jail and $500,000 in fines. If you want to make your bankruptcy process a good one, be sure to avoid making these costly mistakes:

1. Lying or Attempting to Hide Assets

The number one thing you should not do when filing for bankruptcy is lying about factors that could make or break your ability to declare bankruptcy. When reporting your assets, income, or debts, you should be completely honest or you could face criminal charges and your bankruptcy case will be dismissed. To file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you have to go through what is called a “means test” which examines financial records, income, expenses, and your debt to determine whether or not you qualify. Lying or hiding assets so you pass the means test is not good.

2. Increasing Your Credit Card Debt

This is another no-no when filing for bankruptcy. You may think that bankruptcy will relieve you from all of your credit card debt, but typically, credit card purchases that are made within 90 days of filing for bankruptcy are not included in the bankruptcy relief. This means that you will be responsible for paying your creditors that money.

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Orland Park prenuptial agreement lawyersTalking about prenuptial agreements used to be a taboo topic of conversation - if you loved and trusted each other, why were you planning what you would do during a divorce? Nobody can predict the future and in the case that things do end up going south, you want to make sure that your assets are protected. In recent years, prenuptial agreements have been becoming more and more popular as the average age of marriage has been becoming later. If you are wondering whether or not a prenuptial agreement is right for you, consider these reasons for getting one:

1. You Have Been Married Before

One of the most popular reasons why couples consider prenuptial agreements is because one or both of them has been married previously. Whether you did not come out on top in the divorce the first time around or you have spousal obligations from that marriage, a premarital agreement can contain provisions about support obligations or other assets.

2. You Have Children

Going along with a prior marriage, if you have children coming into a marriage, you should seriously consider a prenuptial agreement. Whether the children were from a previous marriage or from a person other than the person you are marrying, the agreement can contain clauses about child support and what will be left to your children if you die.

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Tinley Park estate planning and divorce lawyerDivorce comes with a long, long list of things that you need to do and items that you need to give consideration to. If you are getting divorced, one of the things that you should be thinking about is your estate plan and what the end of your marriage means for that plan. You are most likely going to need to change some things in your estate plan, but what should you be looking for? Here are three things that you should review and update following your divorce:

1. Power of Attorney

A power of attorney for finances allows another person to manage your affairs if you are unable to do so yourself. You and your spouse probably have executed a power of attorney at some point, but you should revoke this as soon as possible, as it may give your spouse access to your assets. This can be particularly important if the divorce is not going to be a smooth one. In addition, you may have executed a power of attorney for healthcare which named your spouse as a health care proxy, authorizing them to make healthcare-related decisions for you if you are unable to do so. You will likely want to revoke this authority as well following your divorce.

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Oak Forest divorce lawyer for dividing marital propertyDivorce affects your entire life, from your living situation and daily routine to your finances. Under normal circumstances, finances can be a headache, and in the case of a divorce, they can be even more frustrating. Your assets and finances are a big part of your divorce settlement, and because of that, you will probably have a few questions. Who should take the house? Who gets the antique dining table in your home? How will you divide your retirement funds? These questions can be daunting, but they do not have to be impossible to resolve. With a little research and advice from a knowledgeable divorce lawyer, you can make the best decisions for your family.

The Family Home

During divorce, the easiest thing to do is to sell your house if you or your spouse do not have a particular attachment to it. By selling your house, you can your spouse can split the profits and carry on with your lives if you have equity in your home. If one spouse wants to keep the home, you will have to figure out if you can afford to keep it, and the home will need to be refinanced to remove the other spouse from the mortgage. Either way, you should get a proper valuation of your home so you know what you are dealing with.

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Palos Heights divorce lawyerDivorce is not uncommon; depending on which reference you are using, the divorce rate in the United States is reported to be anywhere between 40 and 50 percent. With that number in mind, you would think that more people would understand the ins and the outs of divorce, but many topics still seem to be misunderstood by most people. Here are three widely accepted “facts” of divorce and the truths behind them:

1. If One Spouse Is at Fault for the Divorce, They Will Be Penalized

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) only recognizes “irreconcilable differences” as the grounds, or reason, for divorce. No-fault divorce only requires a spouse who files for divorce to state that their marriage has irretrievably broken down, without requiring them to provide a reason. The IMDMA states that decisions about property division and spousal support cannot be made with regard to any sort of marital misconduct. So in short, unless a spouse is dissipating marital property in an affair (such as by using marital funds to buy gifts for a paramour), adultery or other reasons one spouse is at fault will likely not affect the legal aspects of a divorce.

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