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After a divorce agreement is finalized, it is common for a spouse who changed his or her name for the marriage to change it back to his or her given name or a former name. The process for changing a name after a divorce is fairly straightforward. What can be more complicated is if a minor child wants to change his or her name.

For people over the age of 18, name changes take time, patience and plenty of pens and paper, but it is a routine procedure. In Illinois, to change a name after a divorce, you first need to gather a copy of your divorce decree, a government-issued ID card and a birth certificate or other proof of age document.

Most divorce decrees in Illinois have a provision that allows for the name change. If the provision is not included in the divorce decree, the person requesting a name change can contact the court that issued the divorce decree to see if the decree can be amended to allow for a name change. If that cannot be done, there is a straightforward separate court procedure one can follow.

Even with the provision included in the divorce decree, name changes aren’t official with governmental agencies unless forms are filed with the Social Security Office. The Social Security Office will review the person’s documentation and then issue a new Social Security Card with the new name. Once the Social Security Office has approved the change, the person requesting the new name can file for a new driver’s license with the Secretary of State. With a new Social Security card and Driver’s License in hand, a person can change his/her name everywhere else, including applying for a new passport.

The process for a name change for someone under the age of 18 is more complicated, and more rare. Only a guardian with court-granted “parental responsibilities can request a name change for a minor. There are several forms to fill out (go here for a full list) and submit along with a request to the court for a hearing. As part of this process, all biological parents must be notified of the request for name change. Requestors must also post the request for name change in a newspaper.

Name changes after a divorce require careful planning. Be sure to consult your divorce attorney to ensure that all of those steps are completed.

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In January, the new federal tax laws went into effect. These laws include changes that will impact how the tax code treats a divorce settlement.

As it relates to divorce settlements, the most significant change to the tax code involves maintenance (alimony) payments. Since 1942, spouses paying alimony have been able to write-off those payments as a tax deduction and the spouses receiving the payments have had to report the alimony as income. However, the new tax code changes how alimony is treated significantly.

Starting in 2019, alimony payments will no longer be tax-deductible and the payments will no longer be treated as income in a tax filing. It is important to note that these changes do not impact those who divorced or legally separated before Jan. 1, 2019. Those couples that are considering a divorce but haven’t yet finalized their agreements might feel compelled to act before the new alimony tax laws go into effect in 2019.

Other changes to the tax code that may impact divorced couples include:

  • Increase of the standard deduction for single tax payers to $12,000 and for those married and filing jointly to $24,000.
  • Doubling of the child tax credit to $2,000.
  • New $10,000 limit on the deduction for state and local taxes, which includes property and state income taxes.
  • Reduction, with some exceptions, of the mortgage debt limit for home mortgage interest deductions to $750,000 for couples filing jointly and $375,000 for persons filing individually.
  • Elimination of the deduction for interest on home equity loans through 2025.
  • Elimination of the moving expense deduction, with some military members excepted.
  • Increase in the Alternative Minimum Tax exemption for singles and heads of household to $70,300.
  • Doubling of the gift and estate tax exemption.

Before finalizing a divorce settlement, it may be wise to consult a CPA or other tax professional to assess the impact of the tax changes on any potential settlement. As a CPA, Michael Craven is uniquely positioned to help clients navigate the negotiation of a divorce settlement while also taking into account the tax implications of that settlement.

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The military divorce rate is significantly lower than the national average. According to an article in Military.com, the overall military divorce rate was recently at a decade-long low at 3.1 percent. That figure suggests that the overall military divorce rate is declining, but it nonetheless suggests that married couples have to deal with significant stress in the marriage, especially when one of the spouses is deployed. Notably, the divorce rate for male military service members is markedly lower than for women. The female divorce rate in the military was at 6.5 percent in 2014, dropping from 8 percent several years prior.

Getting divorced while one spouse is deployed can be particularly complicated. How do you divorce a spouse who is deployed and may not return to Chicago or surrounding areas for quite some time?

State and Federal Law for Deployed Military Divorces

 

If you live in Chicago and your spouse is deployed and you want to file for divorce, you will need to show that you meet the requirements under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/501 et. seq.). For instance, one of the spouses must be a resident of Illinois when the petition for divorce is filed, and to have an irrebuttable presumption that there are irreconcilable differences, you must have been living separate and apart for at least six months.

Meeting the “separate and apart” requirement can be complicated when the other spouse is deployed. While you may not be living together on a daily basis since your spouse is deployed, you may not legally be living “separate and apart” if your spouse the marital home in Illinois his or her primary place of residence. A Chicago divorce attorney can discuss this with you in greater detail.

How the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Affects Divorce Proceedings

 

As you might imagine, filing for divorce when your spouse is deployed has a lot of practical complications in addition to legal complications. For instance, as the Circuit Court of Cook County explains, once you file a petition for the dissolution of marriage, the other party needs to be served. Serving your summons can be complex if your spouse is deployed in another part of the world.

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) provides deployed service members with certain rights when it comes to divorce. For instance, deployed members of the military can request a stay on the divorce proceedings until the deployment is over. Under certain circumstances, the court is required to grant deployed service members a stay of at least 90 days, but sometimes that period can be extended. If the deployed service member can show that her duties in the military prevent her from appearing in court, then the divorce may be put on hold until the deployment ends.

Parenting Time for A Deployed Parent

Illinois law requires that when a judge determines a child’s best interests regarding parenting time for a parent in the military who is being deployed, that it consider the parent’s military family-care plan that must be completed before deployment.  In addition, Illinois law allows a parent deployed or with orders to be deployed to designate a person known to the child to exercise reasonable substitute parenting time, so long as the court finds same to be in the child’s best interests.

 

Seek Advice from a Chicago Divorce Lawyer

 

Just because your spouse is in the military and is deployed does not mean that you cannot file for divorce. You can in fact file a petition for the dissolution of marriage if you meet the requirements under Illinois and federal law. However, you should be aware that other laws can impact the speed of the proceedings and the way in which the case moves forward. To learn more, you should discuss your case with a Chicagoland divorce lawyer. Contact my office today to learn more about how I can assist you.

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If your spouse has filed a petition for divorce in Chicago or surrounding areas and you do not want to get divorced, do you have any options? For instance, can you refuse to accept the divorce papers when they are delivered to you, thereby preventing the divorce from moving forward? Or, if you do not believe the marriage should end and you want to continue working on the relationship with your spouse, is there a legal way to contest your spouse’s petition for divorce? Generally speaking, as long as the party filing the petition for the dissolution of marriage meets the residency requirements for seeking a divorce, there is not a lot that the other spouse can do.

However, there are ways in which one spouse can contest a petition for divorce, as well as contest elements within the divorce process.

Understanding How a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage Works

 

Under Illinois law (750 ILCS 5/401), when “irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage,” and the court concludes that any “efforts at reconciliation have failed” and that it would not be practical or in the best interests of the family to stay together, the court can enter a judgment of dissolution of marriage.

Imagine that Jane files for divorce in Illinois, but her spouse, Jack, does not want to get divorced. Unlike Jane, Jack does not believe that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Jack believes that he and Jane can continue to work on their marriage, especially since they have two children from the marriage. However, Jane moved out of the house more than six months ago and is determined to move forward with the divorce. Is there anything that Jack can do to prevent the divorce proceeding from moving forward? Since the statute clarifies that there is an irrebuttable presumption of irreconcilable differences when spouses like Jane and Jack have been living separate and apart for six months or more, there is not a lot that Jack can do here to contest the divorce.

However, the statute also clarifies that a judgment for a dissolution of marriage cannot be entered until the court has considered and allocated parental responsibilities, child support, spousal maintenance, and the division of property. As such, the divorce could take additional time in the case of Jane and Jack since the court will need to allocate parental responsibilities for any children from the marriage, as well as to enter a child support order. While parents can come to an agreement in a parenting plan concerning parenting time and parental responsibilities, if Jack does not want to move forward with the divorce, he may not work with Jane to develop a parenting plan that is agreeable to both of them. As such, the court will likely need to enter an allocation judgment, and this will need to occur before the divorce is finalized.

Even if the petition for divorce has been filed lawfully, the spouse who wants to contest the petition can still contest elements of divorce by appearing in court.

Responding to an Illinois Petition for Divorce

 

As the Circuit Court of Cook County explains, once a party has filed a petition for dissolution of marriage, then the other spouse must be served with a summons. Once the other party is served with a summons, then that party (known as the “respondent”) has “30 days to file his or her appearance from the date of service.”

Contact a Chicago Divorce Lawyer

If you have questions about responding to a petition for divorce, you should discuss your options with me as soon as possible. I am a dedicated Chicago divorce attorney and I am eager to assist you throughout each step of your case.

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Let’s assume you grew up outside of Illinois, resided in Chicago for your married life, had children while married and living in Illinois, and then get divorced in Illinois. If you wanted to move back to your home state to take advantage of: your family’s support network, job opportunities, or for other reasons, it could be difficult to move return to your home state if the other parent objects.

In short, you will need to learn more about “relocation” and how Illinois courts make determinations concerning parents who plan to relocate with the children from the marriage.

Learning More About Relocation and Parental Responsibilities

To think through the situation we described above in more detail, let us give you a hypothetical example. In this scenario, Parent A grew up in Idaho her entire life, but she moved to Chicago to marry Parent B. While living in Chicago—Parent A and Parent B had a child. They remain married for a short while before Parent A filed for divorce. Parent A and Parent B’s divorce decree provides that they both share custody, or parental responsibilities. In other words, both parents should be making significant decisions about the child’s upbringing together in addition to spending physical time with the child.

Sometime after the divorce case ended, Parent A decides she wants to move back to Idaho with the child. Is she able to do so? In this hypothetical, Illinois is the “home” state, and Illinois law would apply. Would an Illinois court permit Parent A to move from Chicago to Idaho?

Illinois Law and Relocation of the Parent and Child

 

Under Illinois law (750 ILCS 5/609.2), the parent’s relocation constitutes a substantial change in circumstances such that the court can modify an allocation judgment permitting the parent to relocate with the child. You are relocating if you:

  • Move more than 25 miles from the child’s original home if it is in Cook, DuPage, McHenry, Kane, Lake, or Will Counties or the new home is out of state; or
  • Move more than 50 miles away from the original home within Illinois if it is not in Cook County, DuPage, McHenry, Kane, Lake, or Will Counties.

This relocation law only applies if parents share equal parenting time, or the parent seeking to relocate has been allocated a majority of the parenting time. Before seeking court involvement, Illinois law requires Parent A to provide notice in writing at least 60 days in advance of the planned relocation, providing the following information:

  • Intended date of relocation;
  • Address of intended new residence (if the parent knows it); and
  • Length of time relocation will last (only if it is not permanent).

If Parent B agrees in writing, no further action is required. If Parent B objects, a court may be called upon to make the decision.  In deciding whether to grant Parent A’s request to modify the allocation judgment in order to relocate with the child to her home state, an Illinois court would take into account numerous factors to decide whether a relocation is in the child’s best interest, including but not limited to the following:

  • Reasons for relocation;
  • Why other parent is objecting to relocation;
  • History of each parent’s relationship with the child;
  • Educational opportunities for the child at current and new locations;
  • Presence or absence of extended family at current and new locations;
  • Impact of relocation on the child;
  • Whether court will be able to allocate parental responsibilities adequately if the relocation occurs; and
  • Wishes of the child.

If Parent A wants to move to a “home” state where she has a lot of extended family and a strong support system, this could be an important factor in the court’s decision whether to modify an allocation judgment.

Seek Advice from a Family Law Attorney in Chicago

 

The prospect of relocating with a child after divorce can be frustrating and complicated. If you have concerns, I can help you. Reach out to me today for a consultation on your case.

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In the last couple of years, there have been significant changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/501 et. seq.). Some of these changes have impacted the ways in which Chicago and other Illinois residents can file for divorce, while others deal with family law matters pertaining to child custody, visitation, and child support. If you are thinking about filing for divorce in Illinois, or if you need to know more about how the state now views child custody and visitation, it is important to examine the new Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) closely to understand some of the key changes.

No More Grounds for Divorce: Now Illinois Residents Only Seek No-Fault Divorces

 

One of the first changes to the IMDMA involved removing grounds for divorce, making it so that all Illinois residents will seek a no-fault divorce when they file. The thinking behind this change to the statute was that grounds for divorce are outdated and tended to perpetuate harmful stereotypes and assumptions about spouses who want to file for divorce. Now, Illinois residents only need to show that “irreconcilable differences have caused the breakdown of the marriage.”

Changing Terminology from “Child Custody” and “Visitation” Terms to “Parenting Time” and “Parental Responsibilities”

 

Until the IMDMA changed its language with regard to child custody and visitation, one or both parents often would be awarded child custody. In order to emphasize the bond between parents and their children, the terms of child custody and visitation have been removed from the statute. Now, we use the terms “parenting time” and “parental responsibilities.” What is involved in this new language?

Parenting time, according to the statute, “means the time during which a parent is responsible for exercising caretaking functions and non-significant decision-making responsibilities with respect to the child.” In other words, parenting time looks a lot like physical custody and what was often previously referred to as visitation —the parent spends time with the child and exercises caretaking functions but is not necessarily involved in significant decision-making tasks concerning the child’s upbringing. Parental responsibilities refer to “decision-making responsibilities according to the child’s best interests.” This new feature of the law looks significantly similar to legal custody—the parent may not necessarily exercise caretaking functions but is responsible for making important decisions about the child’s upbringing.

When parents can come to an agreement about parental responsibilities, the IMDMA allows them to develop a “parenting plan” for the court to approve. In cases where the parents cannot come to an agreement in a parenting plan, the court will “allocate parental responsibilities.” It takes into account a number of different factors, and it can allocate different responsibilities to each of the parents (e.g., education, healthcare, religious upbringing, and extracurricular activities).

Income Shares Model for Child Support

 

The most recent change to the IMDMA involves a shift to the “income shares” model for child support. Instead of assigning child support to one parent based on who has custody of the child, Illinois courts now will take into account both parents’ incomes and will determine the percentage for which they are responsible for child support.

In brief, under the income shares model, the court adds both parents’ incomes together (as if they were living in an intact household), determines the child support obligation for that combined income, then decides what proportion of the obligation each parent pays based on a number of different factors. In this model, both parents contribute to the child support obligation, even when one might earn substantially more money than the other.

Contact a Chicago, Illinois Family Law Attorney

 

If you have questions about how recent changes to the IMDMA might impact you, it is important to discuss your situation with a Chicago family law attorney. I am an experienced Illinois divorce attorney, and I would be happy to provide you with a consultation to discuss your case.

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Going through a divorce is difficult enough without having children from the marriage. When children are involved, emotions often run high in all parties involved. Seemingly common issues, such as considering a new job in another state, can have serious consequences for your parenting rights and responsibilities. If you are considering a new job or relocating for another reason, can you move out of state with your children while your divorce is pending? How about after a parenting plan is in place and parental responsibilities have been allocated?

To better understand how relocation works, we want to take a closer look at Part VI of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. Relocation is defined at 750 ILCS 5/600(g) and dealt with at 750 ILCS 5/609.2.

Defining Relocation Under Illinois Law

 

The first thing you need to know if you are thinking about moving out of state with your children is that the court will define such a move as “relocation.” How does Illinois law define relocation? The statute says that relocation can mean several different things:

  • Change of residence from the child’s current primary residence (located in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, or Will Counties) to a new residence within the state that is more than 25 miles from the child’s current residence but still within Illinois;
  • Change of residence from the child’s current primary residence that is not in one of the counties located above to a new residence within Illinois that is more than 50 miles from the child’s current primary residence; or
  • Change of residence from the child’s current primary residence to a residence outside the state of Illinois that is more than 25 miles from the child’s current residence.

As you can see, relocation can have different meanings under the law. Even a move to a primary residence that is a short commute away can count as a relocation according to the statute. As such, as the third category above clarifies, a move out of state qualifies as a “relocation” according to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.

Seeking Leave from the Court

 

A parent cannot simply move out of state with a child during the divorce process. Even if a divorce is pending and the court has not yet made a determination, the parent who provides the child’s primary residence needs to ensure that the court and other relevant parties know about the planned move before anything takes place. An experienced Chicago divorce lawyer can help with this.

Once parental responsibilities have been allocated or there is a parenting plan in place, the court will need to approve any relocation. As the statute explains, if a parent has been allocated a majority of the parenting time or shares parenting time, then that parent can seek to relocate with the child. In so doing, the parent seeking relocation will need to seek a modification of the allocation judgment or of the parenting plan (depending upon the specific facts of the case). In determining whether to modify the allocation judgment or the parenting plan, the court will need to determine whether relocation is in the best interests of the child.

Contact a Chicago Divorce Attorney

 

The laws governing moving your children are complex and very fact sensitive. This article only addresses the basics so that you are aware that legal action may be required before a move occurs. If you have questions about relocation, I can help. As an experienced divorce lawyer representing individuals throughout the greater Chicago area, I have the skill and dedication necessary to assist you in your case. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly for assistance.

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Emotions run high during divorce. You and your spouse may agree on ending your marriage, yet that does not mean neither of you feel anger, frustration, sadness, or resentment. You may have numerous positive and negative feelings about the situation and each other. When the bad seems to outweigh the good, you can fall into a contentious relationship. However, there are ways to avoid this. It is possible to keep your divorce amicable while protecting your rights.

Maintaining an Amicable Relationship During a Divorce

 

Keeping up an amicable relationship with your spouse during a divorce is difficult. However, it is possible to remain civil by:

  • Putting your children first: If you have children with your spouse, putting them first can be a consistent reminder to be calm and polite. Maintaining an amicable relationship with their mother or father is best for them. It avoids putting them in awkward situations or harming their important relationship.
  • Not allowing your emotions to rule your words and actions: You should acknowledge your feelings, yet do not let them dictate your words and actions. The best thing for you and the legal process is to be polite toward your spouse, his or her family, and his or her attorney. If your spouse says or does something that angers you, it is up to you to find a way to respond politely or not at all.
  • Practicing civility: It may sound silly to practice how to react or respond to your spouse. However, it can make a dramatic difference. If you know there are things your spouse tends to do or say to set you off, practice how you can remain calm and respond civilly. You may want to practice appropriate ways to end conversations that upset you.
  • Working with an attorney: If you have never worked with a family law attorney before, you may be worried a lawyer could make your divorce more contentious. However, an experienced and effective divorce attorney should not make the situation more difficult or heated. I am there to provide calm and objective advice. I can also be a means of communication between you and your spouse’s attorney if things become difficult.
  • Trying mediation: If you and your spouse are on good terms and want to avoid the courtroom as much as possible, speak with me about mediation. During mediation, you and your spouse have the opportunity to work out the major issues while addressing your individual concerns and needs. Through mediation, you can customize the end of your marriage instead of relying on the court’s standardized approach to property division, spousal maintenance, parenting responsibilities, parenting time, and child support.

Michael understands that the goal is to be amicable, but realizes this isn’t always achievable.  Many divorces can be very contentions and if it isn’t amicable, Michael is very good at finding resolutions in the courtroom.

Contact my Office for Legal Advice

 

If you are moving forward with a divorce contact me at my office today at (312) 621-5234 to schedule a consultation. I am happy to discuss your situation, offer advice on how to remain civil, and discuss the prospect of mediation.

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Divorce Attorneys Should Be Aware of the Many Ins, Outs of Real Estate Law

Discourse on Divorce

As featured in the August 8, 2017 edition of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

By Michael C. Craven

Welcome to the second edition of my Discourse on Divorce column, in which I explore areas of law that intersect with divorce law. After examining the connection between estate planning and divorce law in my last column on April 30, in this edition, I look at how real estate lawyers can keep their clients informed of their options to protect real estate assets in a divorce.

Unlike some states where all assets are considered community property to be divided evenly in a divorce, the state of Illinois is an equitable division state. That means that assets are divided into two categories: marital assets and nonmarital assets. Assets that are categorized as marital are then divided equitably — which does not necessarily mean equally.

When it comes to the division of property during a divorce proceeding, there is room to argue which category the property should fall under, but once a property is classified as a nonmarital asset, the court is obligated to award the property to the single owner. A property that is designated as a martial asset, however, may be divided between the two former spouses.

It is important for real property owners and their real estate attorneys to be aware of the difference between marital and nonmarital assets. Real estate lawyers may want to consult with or refer their clients to a divorce lawyer. Clients should be made aware of all of the possible legal ramifications involved with the ownership of real estate during marriage.

Even if they aren’t planning on getting a divorce, clients who are considering changing how title is held, refinancing a loan on a nonmarital residence or investing in improvements to a piece of real property should speak with a family law lawyer to learn the impact that any of these actions could have on rights to the property should divorce occur.

For instance, if a client owns a home before entering a marriage, he or she will continue to own that home as a nonmarital asset after the marriage ends if he or she remains the only name on the deed. This is true even if the couple lives in the home as a married couple and pays for the mortgage and taxes with joint funds.

However, if the name on the deed is changed to include both spouses, then the house could be considered by a judge to be a gift to the marriage and, therefore, designated a marital asset and subject to allocation among both spouses.

This often occurs when a property is refinanced. A lender may require, as a condition of a new loan, that both parties sign the note and mortgage. To ensure the lender’s loan is properly secured, the lender may also require that title be held in both spouses’ names. If the owning spouse does not intend the transfer of title to be a gift to the marriage, care must be taken to assure that the actual intent is known and memorialized.

Another important concern for real estate clients to be aware of is when joint money is used to enhance the value of a nonmarital home. For example, paying down a mortgage from a joint family account or using marital funds to finance an addition or remodel can lead to those joint or marital funds becoming absorbed into the nonmarital real estate.

Again, to avoid unintended results, real estate clients must be advised as to legal ramifications of their actions. If properly structured and documented, the marital estate can be reimbursed in whole or in part by the joint or marital funds that enhanced the value of nonmarital real estate.

In addition, if a client owns an income property before entering a marriage, additional complications may arise. Questions that should be addressed by real estate lawyers include whether or not a positive cash flow belongs solely to the owner of the nonmarital property or to the marriage.

The answer may depend on the amount of personal effort the owner invests into the real estate. If the rental income is nonmarital, the owner must keep that income separate from marital bank accounts if he or she doesn’t want it transmuted into marital money.

On the flip side, if the rental property operates at a loss and joint money is used to pay the bills, the marriage may be reimbursed if properly transacted.

Real estate lawyers representing clients selling nonmarital real property should also be aware that how the sales proceeds are handled impacts the designation of those monies. It is a good idea for a real estate lawyer to ask a married client who is selling a property when he or she purchased the property and how it was acquired (as property acquired during the marriage by gift or inheritance may also be categorized as nonmarital).

If the purchase came before the marriage or if the property was acquired during the marriage by gift or inheritance, the client may have a nonmarital claim.

Special care will need to be taken to ensure that the proceeds from the sale remain separate from marital accounts. Family law lawyers can advise on how best to handle those proceeds if the client wishes to keep the proceeds designated as nonmarital.

Real estate lawyers who represent unmarried couples who purchase property together before getting married may also want to advise their clients to reach out to a family law lawyer to discuss their options. Co-ownership agreements are always a good idea before a couple is married. However, if a client has a co-ownership agreement, the client should be advised to revisit that agreement before getting married.

When people are happily married, they rarely think about protecting their individual assets in case of divorce. However, once it is clear a marriage is ending, it is often too late for individuals to go back and claim full rights over those assets.

Making clients aware that the decisions they make now could affect their rights to real estate in the event of a divorce will allow those clients to be better informed about their future.

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It is not uncommon for decades-long marriages to end in divorce. You and your spouse have been together a long time. You have experienced the ups and downs of marriages, raised your children, and are now approaching retirement or are already retired. It is a different time of life now, and you may both look forward to moving on with your lives separately. Because your children are adults, you may be tempted to believe your divorce will go smoothly. However, there are a number of unique challenges you need to address as a couple divorcing after 50.

Real Estate

 

Real estate is often one of the most valuable types of assets you have as an older couple. At this point in your life, you likely own your family home. You may have been successful enough to afford an additional condo in Chicago, a cabin in Wisconsin, or a timeshare in Florida. When you begin to discuss how to handle these assets in the divorce, your conversation is going to be far different than if you were still young parents. Possibly, neither of you may be interested in keeping the family home since it may be a smart time to downsize. Or you may agree that each of you will keep one of the properties you own. There are many ways to handle real estate during a divorce and I can help you make the best decision for your future.

Retirement

 

Once you and your spouse are over 50, your retirement income becomes critically important. You will both need to ensure that all retirement and pension accounts are properly allocated. If you each built up your own retirement accounts throughout your life, there may be little to transfer from one of you to the other. However, if your combined retirement savings is focused in one person’s account, then one of you will need to ensure you receive your fair portion. Dividing retirement savings can be difficult since one person may feel he or she earned it more than the other. If you need to fight for the portion you deserve, call me today.

Social Security

 

Neither you nor your spouse is entitled to divide your current or future Social Security benefits during a divorce, as federal laws control. However, if you and your spouse were married more than 10 years, then one of you may be able to collect from the other’s benefits. Be sure to speak with me or a financial professional about your future Social Security benefits so you can better estimate your retirement income following a divorce.

Health Insurance

 

As you get older, your medical needs may increase, which means remaining on an insurance plan is essential. If you are under 65 and not yet eligible for Medicare, consider how you will be covered. You may be entitled to remain on your spouse’s employer-provided insurance plan for a time after a divorce. However, this type of COBRA coverage can be expensive. You may have to purchase a health care plan for yourself through the online marketplace. Make sure to speak with me or a financial professional about this future expense. If you will be without coverage while your spouse remains on his or her plan, and your income does not support purchasing a plan, this may necessitate seeking spousal maintenance.

Estate Planning

 

If you and your spouse have money, investments, or property you want to pass on to your children or grandchildren, then you will need to combine estate planning with your divorce. Planning for the future is particularly important if you do not want certain assets to go to your ex’s future spouse or children.

Debt

 

It is common for couples to carry some debt throughout their marriages. This can include federal parent plus loans and private loans for your kids’ college educations, auto loans, mortgages, credit card debt, and business loans. Be sure to obtain an accurate accounting of all debt when entering into the divorce to ensure it is divided equitably. If possible, you and a financial professional can work out the best ways to reduce your debt in the near future so you do not have to worry about it during retirement.

Children

 

If you and your spouse are both over 50, your kids may be grown and out of the house or at least in college. It is not necessary to discuss parental allocation (formerly custody) in court, though you may need to work out living arrangements as a family. However, if one or more of your children is still in college, then you will need to decide who pays for their expenses. You and your spouse can work this out yourselves or you can take the issue to court. A judge may or may not expect you both to contribute; it depends on the circumstances.

Do You Need Legal Help?

If you want to move forward with a divorce or have questions, call me at (312) 621-5234 and schedule a time for us to meet.

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