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Parental alienation psychologically manipulates the most innocent members of the family and causes lasting psychological damage. Parental alienation can permanently affect the bonds between parents and their children.

What Is Parental Alienation?

Parental alienation is the disruption of the parent/child relationship through manipulation and isolation. The parent committing parental alienation attempts to sever or prevent a healthy relationship between the targeted parent and the children, often using the children as a bargaining chip. This type of strategy focuses on unjustified or exaggerated criticism of the targeted parent with the goal of damaging the relationship between the parent and the children.

What Effect Does Parental Alienation Have on a Family?

Parental alienation can harm every member of the family. The targeted parent may cycle through anger, depression, frustration, and hopelessness. The manipulated child may express disrespect, fear and irrational anger toward the targeted parent. Often, the bond between the parent and child deteriorates over time, sometimes resulting in family members becoming unable to communicate or spend time together.

In some parental alienation cases, the offending parent makes false allegations of abuse against the other parent. These accusations, which are more common in high conflict divorce cases, often result in severe psychological harm and loss of reputation for the targeted parent.

Signs of Parental Alienation

There may be several signs that parental alienation is occurring, such as:

  • Constant criticism of one parent
  • Borrowed scenarios to denigrate the targeted parent
  • Weak rationalizations for the denigration
  • Reflexive support from the parent causing the conflict toward the children
  • Lack of guilt over allegations and criticism of the other parent
  • Spread of animosity to other people familiar with the children and divorce
Movement to Stop Parental Alienation

Various community members have been part of a growing movement to stop parental alienation. Ginger Gentile has produced a documentary on the subject titled “Erasing Family.” Others have participated in symposiums and educational events to shed light on the growing problem. Gentile and others promote reform in family court and raising awareness in court-ordered family separations. Other professionals in the education, health and legal fields also work with families who are at risk for parental alienation.

The post Are You a Victim of Parental Alienation? appeared first on The Law Offices of Roger W. Stelk.

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After a foreclosure in Illinois, junior lien holders may pursue judgments against the debtors in an effort to collect what is owed to them. While second mortgages and home equity lines of credit will no longer be secured by the properties, foreclosed homeowners may still be liable for them. Similarly, if the foreclosure sale does not secure the total amount that is owed, the primary mortgage holder may seek to recover the difference through a deficiency judgment.

What Happens to Second Mortgages in Foreclosure?

When there are multiple liens against a property, they are ordered in priority. The original mortgage that was used to purchase the home will have priority over second mortgages, home equity lines of credit and tax liens. When a homeowner defaults on the first mortgage, the lender may foreclose on the home. After the foreclosure sale, the second mortgages and junior liens will no longer exist against the home. However, the debts that are owed will not disappear. Instead, these junior mortgages and liens will be transformed into unsecured debts. The creditors may engage in collection activities to try to recover what they are owed. If they obtain civil judgments against the debtors, they may then garnish their wages or attach liens against their other personal or real property.

When the Foreclosure Doesn’t Cover the Debts

When the foreclosure sale doesn’t cover the priority lender’s mortgage balance, the mortgage against the home will not exist. The lender may pursue a deficiency judgment against the debtor in an effort to collect the difference between the foreclosure sales price and the remaining debt amount.

Homeowners who are in danger of foreclosure may want to investigate ways to avoid it or to minimize the risk of judgments, garnishments, and liens against their other property. Loan modification or refinancing may help borrowers to avoid foreclosure. A short sale agreement may also be negotiated. Finally, if there are no other options, debtors may be able to strip junior liens from their home through Chapter 13 bankruptcy while saving their homes from foreclosure.

The post Your Liability for Liens and Second Mortgages After Foreclosure appeared first on The Law Offices of Roger W. Stelk.

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The new tax law that will eliminate tax deductions on maintenance (alimony) as of January 1, 2019. The consensus is that this will force a reevaluation of divorces that involve maintenance.

The Ability to Reduce Maintenance Payments

Divorce lawyers have expressed concern that the divorcee who earns more money will have more leveraging power to argue lower maintenance payments with the new law. While the current tax plan enables the paying spouse to deduct maintenance from taxes, the new law will remove this deduction. With the old plan, high-earning spouses who are responsible for making spousal maintenance payments can deduct those payments from their taxable income each year, often resulting in significant tax savings. However, this will only apply to maintenance payments entered after January 1, 2019. All other maintenance orders will be grandfathered under the old tax law.

Other Benefits Still in Place

Although the new law will remove tax benefits that spouses who pay maintenance have been able to experience in the past and may make it more challenging for divorces to result in an outcome that’s helpful for both parties, there are still a few financial benefits that divorced spouses can continue to experience. Following a divorce, the spouse receiving spousal maintenance will not be required to report the payments as taxable income under the new plan. Additionally, an individual will still be able to receive spousal Social Security benefits that are based on the other divorcee’s earnings. However, the claimant needs to be unmarried at the time of the claim and the couple needs to have been married for at least ten years to be eligible.

The post New Tax Plan Will Penalize You For Getting Divorced appeared first on The Law Offices of Roger W. Stelk.

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Rent to own is a technique that allows buyers who cannot gather a large down-payment or secure a mortgage the opportunity to make payments on their home. This type of owner financing is also useful for sellers who want to get their home off the market but are unable to find an eligible buyer. It expands the number of potential buyers and often gives sellers the opportunity to receive the full asking price or higher monthly rent for their property.

Operation of Lease to Own

A lease to own (or rent to own) works in the following manner:

  1. The lease of a property is combined with an option to purchase within a specified number of years (usually around three years or less) at a named price;
  2. The renter sometimes pays a non-refundable “option fee” which is between one to five percent of the total price;
  3. The renter will pay the monthly rent plus a premium that is credited to the purchase price.
Seller Benefits

Lease to own benefits sellers because they are more likely to get the full asking price and receive higher monthly payments because the seller is providing financing to the buyer. The seller then avoids paying for an unproductive property that could be on the market for months before a buyer is secured and the deal is closed.

Sellers achieve monthly cash flow to offset expenses, a higher sale price, and lower risk because a buyer is secured. Moreover, “rent to own” buyers are typically better tenants who are more likely to care for the property because it will eventually become theirs.

Buyer Benefits

Lease to own also benefits buyers. In rent to own deals, buyers have lower out of pocket expenses, their payments are credited to the price of the home, they gain the benefit of equity growth, and they can take advantage of the mortgage interest deduction and other tax benefits that come with homeownership. Moreover, leasing to own combines the flexibility of renting with the control that comes with owning a home.

The post What You Should Know About Rent-to-Own Transactions appeared first on The Law Offices of Roger W. Stelk.

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Parents who assert that they should be awarded sole custody of their children because they believe that they are the better parents may find that these arguments backfire in Illinois courts. Unless there are circumstances which would endanger the physical or psychological well-being of the child, courts generally disfavor granting sole custody to one parent. Attempting to exclude the other parent without genuine evidence of child endangerment can actually have a negative impact on a custody case. In fact, If the court believes that a parent is actively trying to interfere with the other parent’s rights to a relationship with the child, the court may award the other parent greater rights. When legitimate circumstances indicate that one parent should be granted sole custody of the child, proper presentation of evidence is key. A family law attorney may assist the parent in proving that sole custody is in the child’s best interest.

Why Courts Disfavor Sole Custody Awards

Courts generally favor joint custody arrangements because children generally do better when they are allowed ample time with both of their parents. When a parent argues that his or her ex should be prevented from seeing the child for all but egregious circumstances, courts tend to disapprove. Instead of attacking the other parent, those who are seeking sole custody should always keep their children’s best interests in mind and focus on legitimate concerns.

When Might Sole Custody be Granted?

When courts decide how to allocate parental responsibilities, they consider a number of factors. If the child would be in imminent danger if the other parent was awarded parenting time and shared decision making, the court may award sole custody. Some of the factors that might lead the court to make such an award include a history of domestic violence or abuse, a substance abuse problem, the inability or unwillingness to provide for the basic needs of the child, and any mental health problems that could endanger the child.

Parents who seek sole custody because they think they have superior parenting styles are unlikely to be granted sole custody. A family law attorney may advise parents about whether filing a petition for sole custody is advisable.

The post Are You the Better Parent? (Child Custody) appeared first on The Law Offices of Roger W. Stelk.

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A parallel parenting agreement in a high-conflict divorce can reduce family tensions and ease divorce-related stress for children. During a divorce, parental conflict and fighting about child-rearing decisions in front of the children heightens their anxiety and may cause mental harm. Parallel parenting enables parents to remain disengaged from each other, thus avoiding damaging conflict.

The Most Harmful Effect

The manner in which parents handle divorce has a direct impact on a child’s ability to deal with stressful situations now and in the future. High amounts of conflict between parents create insecurity and anxiety that can interfere with a child’s development for years to come.

Problems may arise when a conflict between parents bleeds over to the children. Family mental health practitioners agree that the most harmful thing parents can do to children during a divorce is to fight in front of them. The harm is compounded when parents fight about the children or use the children, involving them in the parental conflict.

Parallel Parenting May Reduce the Conflict

By disengaging and refraining from contact with each other, parents in high-conflict disputes can reduce tension and anxiety for children. In parallel parenting, a family law attorney helps structure an agreement that operates in the best interest of the child, allowing for co-parenting without contact between parents.

Rather than share in decisions regarding children, the parallel parenting agreement determines the decisions for which each parent is responsible. Special activities, daily routine, medical, food, and education decisions are divided equitably between parents so that there is no overlap and conflict is avoided.

In this way, parallel parenting offers some concrete benefits for all parties, including:

  • Children maintain a supportive relationship with both parents
  • Parental conflict is kept away from children
  • Establishes for the child that both parents are equally important and concerned for their welfare
The Key to Success

The key to successful parallel parenting agreements is specificity. The higher the level of conflict, the greater the need for the family law attorney to structure an agreement that clearly defines the engagement of each parent with the children, including a non-confrontational method of communication with each other.

While parallel parenting may not resolve parental conflict, it does remove a child from exposure to the conflict. Over time, the disengagement of the parents may reduce the anxiety experienced by children in a high-conflict divorce.

The post Is Parallel Parenting An Option for Your High-Conflict Family? appeared first on The Law Offices of Roger W. Stelk.

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In the past twenty-five years, divorce rates for people over 65 have tripled, based on information from Pew Research Center. The rate of divorce for people between 50 and 64 has more than doubled during the same period. Although some news outlets have reported that divorce rates for American marriages appear to be declining, more than half of all marriages will likely end in divorce. There are a few possible reasons why Baby Boomers are currently divorcing in higher numbers.

Is increased longevity increasing the likelihood of divorce?

People are living longer, more active lives. Married adults in their fifties and sixties typically have decades of life ahead of them. Even retirees have more time to accomplish life-long goals and pursue personal interests and hobbies they did not have time for while working. When married to someone who lacks the same vision for the future, some Boomers opt to make the most of their remaining years by filing for divorce and beginning the next phase of their lives single.

Higher expectations than previous generations

Many Baby Boomers divorce now because they have higher expectations for their lives and the marriages they entered into decades ago. They contact a divorce lawyer because they have grown apart, not due to a specific indiscretion or sudden decline in the quality of the marriage. What constitutes a happy marriage these days is vastly different from years past. Some people in good health and with adequate financial resources feel they can divorce at an older age without having to worry about falling into poverty.

Baby Boomers historically divorced in higher numbers

Pew Research Center also notes that the rate of divorce for younger Baby Boomers was quite high. That could be another factor contributing to the current trend. Second or third marriages are often less stable than first marriages. That instability and willingness to divorce could increase the likelihood that some adults 50 and older leave a marriage in which they feel unfulfilled or unhappy.

Not just an American phenomenon

Recent studies reveal a similar trend in France. Elena Stancanelli is a researcher at the Paris School of Economics. She found that French couples who have been married for 35 to 40 years are just as likely to divorce as people married for less than five years.

The post Baby Boomers Are Divorcing at a Shocking Rate appeared first on The Law Offices of Roger W. Stelk.

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When an individual goes through a foreclosure in Illinois and the sale price is unable to cover the mortgage, in some situations the lender can pursue the person for the deficiency. A deficiency judgment could cause significant financial harm to the borrower, but there are limitations and restrictions that apply to certain circumstances.

How a Deficiency Works

When lenders foreclose on mortgages, the total amount of debt that the borrowers owe the lenders will often be higher than the sale price of the foreclosure. The difference between the sale price and the debt is referred to as a “deficiency.”

In Illinois, lenders can seek a deficiency judgment against debtors to attain the deficiency. Normally, once the lender is able to get a deficiency judgment, the lender may collect the total amount from the borrowers by levying the borrowers’ bank account, taking non-exempt assets or garnishing their wages.

Illinois Deficiency Judgements

Illinois foreclosures are judicial, meaning they go through the state court system. The lender must first file a lawsuit against the borrowers, which is referred to as a “complaint” in Illinois and then obtain a judgment.

There are two main types of deficiency judgments in Illinois. They are in personam deficiencies and in rem deficiencies. An in personam deficiency enables the lender to collect the deficiency amount from the borrower directly. An in rem deficiency judgment is not personal and is instead against the property itself. It is entered as an element of the foreclosure judgment and is only instigated if the borrower chooses to redeem the property.

Deficiency Judgements After Deeds in Lieu of Foreclosure and Short Sales

A deed in lieu of foreclosure happens when a lender decides to accept a property deed rather than foreclosing to obtain a title. With a deed, the deficiency sum becomes the difference between the total debt owed and the property’s fair market value. Lenders in Illinois aren’t allowed to get a deficiency judgment after a deed in lieu of foreclosure unless the borrower has signed an agreement to remain liable.

A short sale is when the home is sold for less than the amount of existing mortgage debt and the proceeds go to a part of the balance. Lenders are allowed to pursue deficiency judgments after short sales unless the agreement expressly states that the lender waives its right to the deficiency.

The post A Deficiency Judgement Can Wreak Havoc on Your Future appeared first on Roger Stelk.

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One of the primary concerns that parents have when going through a divorce is how it will affect their children, but there are some benefits that can prevent it from being a negative experience.

Some of the aspects of divorce that can be good for the kids include:

Learning Problem-solving Skills

Bad marriages set a bad example for children, and subsequently ending the marriage can be beneficial for them. Children are perceptive of problems that occur within the home, and when a divorce resolves those problems, they can learn how to handle the negative emotions associated with them.

Divorcing can free the family of those conflicts that might otherwise remain, and can teach children that sometimes disengagement is the best solution to an ongoing problem.

Spending More Time with Each Parent

Another potential benefit of divorce is that children get to spend more time with each parent on a one-on-one basis. Children in shared custody situations are more likely to experience a greater amount of interaction with parents than children raised by a single parent.

Co-parenting gives both parents equal opportunity to raise their children in a healthy environment.

Increased Happiness Levels

Divorce can also culminate in more financial stability, which in turn leads to more happiness. Children need a happy and healthy home to grow up in, but in many cases, a household suffers from money stress. If a single parent can provide the support that a child needs, the child will likely be far happier than in a broken and unstable household.

Marital conflicts are also unhealthy for children, and eliminating marital strife through a divorce can leave kids more content in the long-term.

Improved Communication Skills

Children can also learn to communicate more effectively between two households. Parents who share custody may need to be reminded of obligations to maintain a routine that the child is comfortable with, which can teach the child to communicate this to each parent. Children can also share with one parent their experiences with the other, helping develop storytelling skills.

However, it’s important to ensure that the child isn’t relied on as the messenger. Instead, both parents should also practice good communication skills to meet their children’s needs as well as their own.

These and other benefits can make a divorce worthwhile despite the frequent concerns that parents may face.

The post Divorce May Be Good for the Kids appeared first on Roger Stelk.

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A cherished tax advantage for commercial real estate, the 1031 exchange provision, could soon be eliminated even as chances of a broad federal tax overhaul decrease in 2017.

What is a 1031 Property Swap?

The 1031 exchange provision allows real estate sellers to avoid paying capital-gains taxes by directing proceeds to “like-kind” property investments.

For example, an investor may sell an apartment complex for a multimillion-dollar profit. If the investor reinvests the proceeds in a commercial facility of similar value, the investor isn’t required to pay taxes on the capital gain.

The 1031 provision was originally intended for use by neighboring farmers who would exchange one property for another, usually to help determine property lines. Over the years, it increased in popularity due to supportive IRS and Treasury Department rulings.

Elimination Without Provisions

1031 property swaps had a chance of being eliminated with the “Better Way” plan proposed by House Republicans last year. The plan became more popular once Donald Trump became President, and would have included other provisions that were more favorable for individuals in the real estate industry while cutting taxes.

However, the Better Way plan has become bogged down over time, removing some of those other provisions that would’ve made the plan easier for the real estate industry to handle.

Real estate executives have claimed that the elimination of the 1031 exchanges could leave the real estate industry and economy at a huge disadvantage. According to Green Street, like-kind exchanges comprise 10% to 20% of real estate transactions for commercial properties.

Smaller investors would also be at a disadvantage, as 1031s have been pooled for them in many cases. Without the provision, many transactions may be blocked as a result.

The removal of 1031 exchanges would also inevitably hurt the economy as investors will be forced to pay out of pocket in transactions. Normally, investors who acquire real estate via a 1031 are more likely to invest in those properties over ones that pay cash.

Making a Decision

As of now, there isn’t a bill in place to eliminate 1031 property swaps, and Republicans are currently in disagreement over their direction. However, the risk still stands as 1031 sits on the chopping block, leaving real estate professionals anxious about the future of property swaps.

The post 1031 Property Swaps May be Victim of Trump Tax Reform appeared first on Roger Stelk.

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