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Many couples who are considering divorce may have credit card debt or other debts incurred during the marriage that must be split up just as you would divide marital assets. When starting a divorce process, your attorney will ask for information detailing what you own and what you owe, your incomes and cost of living, and any other pertinent financial information in order to split up debts at divorce. Once a clear picture develops of what marital debt must be split up, there are a number of options you may consider to tackle how to split up your debt.

  • One option is for you and your spouse to sell joint property such as your home or car and pay off your marital debts, providing a clean slate when you go your separate ways.
  • When there is no property to sell in order to pay off marital debt, some spouses may just agree to split the debt, chipping away at balances that may be in both your names post-divorce. Of course, this arrangement may leave one or both spouses feeling uneasy about whether the other spouse will follow through with timely payments – the failure to do so could have a negative impact on your credit for years to come.
  • If you cannot sell property to pay off your marital debt and you do not feel comfortable sharing payments for debt still in your name, one spouse might agree to pay the all or most of the debts in exchange for a greater share of the marital property or more alimony and vice versa. This way, the spouse assuming responsibility can rest assured that the debts get paid on time and are compensated in marital property before the divorce is finalized.

The first option is the least risky given that any time you’re connected to someone financially, you are at risk. Especially when that someone is an ex-spouse. If your spouse fails to make timely payments or is unable to make payments due to job loss or disability, for example, you will suffer the consequences for debt that is in both your names despite a court order saying your spouse is the responsible party. Many advise that, when at all possible, sell joint property to tackle debt or at least split debt along party lines – you take on the debt in your name and your spouse takes the debt in his or her name while paying off what is in both your names asap.

If you and your spouse find that your debts and liabilities outweigh your assets and income, it is in your interests to work with an attorney or financial adviser who can provide you with a candid assessment. Perhaps you and your spouse might want to explore bankruptcy protection, individually or jointly, before you divorce or after your divorce depending on the unique circumstances of your case.

Do You Have Questions on How to Split Up Debt in an Illinois Divorce? Contact Experienced Lake County Family Law Attorney for Answers

If you have questions regarding how to split up your marital debt in an Illinois divorce, contact the Lake county Family Law Offices of Ronald L Bell & Associates for assistance today at 847-495-6000.

The post How to Split Up Debt in an Illinois Divorce appeared first on Libertyville Divorce Lawyer, Lake County.

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Dividing assets in a divorce can be complicated. In a complex divorce, couples may have accrued significant employment benefits that are more difficult to divide such as stock options.

What are Stock Options?

Stock options are offered to an employee to purchase company stock at a set price, at a future date. Many companies attract employees by offering stock options as a component to their compensation. As the company grows, ideally company stock will go up and the opportunity to purchase stock at a discounted price will result in a tidy profit when the employee sells his or her shares.

If you and your spouse are divorcing, stock options can be very valuable assets and are taken into account when dividing marital property.  It is important to discover all the employment benefits a spouse may have to determine if there are options that are subject to division in a divorce.

Stock Options May (or May Not) Be Marital Property

If a spouse was granted stock options to reward past work that occurred prior to the marriage and as a carrot to ensure an employee will stay on (while married), the options may be a mixture of both separate and marital property. Any compensation for work completed during the marriage will likely be subject to division in a divorce.  Determining whether stock options are marital or separate property can be difficult to determine, but an examination of employment documents often hold the key as to whether an option was granted for past or future work. An experienced family law attorney can determine which assets are considered marital or non-marital property.

Are Unvested Stock Options Subject to Division in a Divorce?

Vested or not vested? The vesting period refers to how long the employee has to wait before he or she can exercise (sell) the option. Typically 10 years will pass before options are fully vested and an employee can cash in on stock options. If options are granted in 2010 for example, but cannot be exercised until 2020, the options are considered unvested. Although a vesting schedule can complicate the division of stock options, unvested stock options can be classified as marital property subject to marital property division.

Valuing and Dividing  Stock Options in a Illinois Divorce

To get at the cash value of the stock options there are many variables to consider such as the stock price, exercise price, time to maturity, annualized volatility and more.  Once valued, sometimes the employee spouse will agree to give another asset comparable in value or, if the employee spouse has no additional assets to offset the balance owed the other spouse, the couple may opt for a deferred distribution detailing how the non-employee spouse will be paid once the employee spouse has exercised the stock option. When making decisions regarding stock options always have an eye toward tax consequences – consulting with an attorney or cap help you avoid costly mistakes.

Attorney Ronald L. Bell has over three decades of experience handling high asset divorces in Illinois. If you have questions regarding dividing employment benefits in a divorce, contact the marital property division law offices of Ronald L. Bell & Associates for more information today at 847-495-6000.

The post Dividing Employment Benefits in a Divorce appeared first on Libertyville Divorce Lawyer, Lake County.

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Following a divorce, sometimes a parent who shares parenting time and responsibility with an ex-spouse may want to relocate for a job, a new relationship, or to be closer to extended family. Depending on the distance, if a parent wishes to relocate with the children to start a new life, the other parent will have to sign off or the decision will be left up to the courts.

If a parent intends to move with the kids, any change in residence of the child’s primary residence of more than 25 miles in Cook and collar counties or more than 50 miles in the rest of the state or more than 25 miles outside of Illinois, must provide notice to the other parent 60 days prior to relocation. Sometimes the other parent is supportive of the move and the parents can then work together to establish a parenting time schedule that will work. In these cases, the non-relocating parent only has to sign the notice and the relocating parent will file the signed notice with the court.

However, in many cases the other parent does not agree (or simply does not sign the notice) so the relocating parent must file a petition seeking a leave of court to relocate. A court must then determine whether a move is in the child’s best interests applying 11 specified statutory factors before modifying the parenting plan and granting relocation.

  1. What is the reason for the move? Is there a benefit for the parent and child such as a new career opportunity that enables a parent to better support the child?
  2. For what reason does the other parent object? Will it disrupt the parent child relationship?
  3. Have the parents fulfilled their parental responsibilities to date? Have they demonstrated a fitness for parenting up to now?
  4. Will the child enjoy better educational opportunities?
  5. Will the move put the child farther away from extended family or closer?
  6. Although the move may improve the child’s standard of living, are there any negative impacts to the child such as emotional trauma?
  7. Can the parents work together to forge a new parenting time agreement?
  8. What does the child want? If he or she is mature enough to weigh in, the court will consider his or her wishes
  9. Have arrangements been made to support the child in the new location – does the parent have resources such as shelter and a job lined up to make the transition smooth for the benefit of the child?
  10. Can the child feasibly continue a relationship with the non-relocating parent?
  11. Other factors that are unique to the family for the court to consider.

If you are considering a petition to relocate or do not agree with your ex-spouse’s plans to move your kids, keep in mind that different courts in Illinois have come up with different results after considering the 11 factors so the outcome of any case remains uncertain. It may be helpful to look at recent cases to glean some idea of what the courts look at when making deciding whether to grant a relocation request including IN RE PARENTAGE OF P.D.IN THE MARRIAGE OF STIMSON; IN THE MARRIAGE OF KAVCHAK; or IN THE MARRIAGE OF FATKIN. 

Because of the level of complexity involved in deciding what is in a child’s best interests in an Illinois child relocation and the varied results that come out of the courts, it is critically important to have experienced post divorce decree representation whether you are a parent who wishes to relocate with your children or you are a parent who is fighting a child relocation. Contact the Libertyville Illinois Law Offices of Ronald L Bell & Associates for immediate help today at 847-495-6000.

The post Battling an Illinois Child Relocation in Court appeared first on Libertyville Divorce Lawyer, Lake County.

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This year, California became the third state in the country to adopt a law that considers the best interest of pets caught up in the tug-of-war of a divorce as opposed to treating them like any other property to be divided.  They join Illinois, which passed a similar law in 2018 (750 ILCS 5/502) that gives a judge more leeway when it comes to deciding who gets the dog or cat when parties cannot agree in a divorce.

A judge may consider factors such as who initially purchased the pet, such as a dog, and whether the dog went on to become an integral part of the family.  The judge may then consider who took the responsibility for caring for the dog on a day to day basis. Did one spouse take the dog for walks and provide regular feeding and daily care? Who took the dog for regular checkups at the veterinarian or regular grooming appointments?

In contrast to the days when pets were regarded as any other marital property such as a car or house to divide in a divorce, a spouse who has cared for the pet may be the one who is awarded pet custody. If, as is often the case, both parties are invested in the family pet, joint pet custody may be an option for those who wish to share ownership.

In many households, pets are considered members of the family.  Consequently, other states across the U.S. will likely pass similar laws addressing pet custody in a divorce with a pet’s well being in mind.  With roughly 70 percent of households owning a pet in the U.S.,  allowing the courts the authority to give more consideration to the animals or to the interest of the individual when deciding what happens to the pet in a divorce is a welcome sign for animal lovers and their furry friends alike.  The laws will also lessen the likelihood of a disgruntled spouse using a pet as a pawn and prevent acts of retaliation in domestic violence cases.

Illinois statute states that a pet is considered a marital asset if it was acquired during the marriage, although exceptions exist such as when an animal is a gift to one spouse, is inherited, or is addressed in a prepnuptial agreement. Barring those exceptions, a judge will presumably reach a decision he or she deems in the best interests of all involved including the family pet.

What happened after the case solidified my beliefs of just how sincere Ron and his team were about my case. The night of the hearing I received a call from Ron asking if my dog was home and how he was doing. The case was over, we won. But he went out of way to check in on us and that made me feel like I was not just another client, he really cared.

At the end of the day I was completely satisfied with Ron’s representation. When he took the case he got to know all the facts and he represented the absolute best anyone could. He used the facts and his experience to make sure we got the outcome we desired. ~ Brett

Many welcome the growing trend of keeping animals’ interests in mind when marriages end in divorce. In the eyes of their loving owners, dogs, cats and other animals are people too with feelings and needs that require attention. Wouldn’t it be nice if a they got to live where they are happy?  If you have concerns about who gets the dog or cat in an Illinois divorce, contact the lake county Illinois family law offices of Ronald L. Bell & Associates PC for assistance today at 847-495-6000.

The post Who Gets the Dog or Cat in an Illinois Divorce? appeared first on Libertyville Divorce Lawyer, Lake County.

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When Illinois courts make parenting time and responsibility determinations the most important consideration is the best interests of the children. Certainly children benefit when both parents put aside their differences and develop a co-parenting relationship of love and cooperation, but if either parent is not up to the task, it could very well impact the parenting time arrangement.

If a parent regularly badmouths a the other parent in front of the kids, for example, a judge may reach the conclusion that he or she is actively sabotaging the ex’s relationship with the children. It may be that your ex is a liar, cheat, or a dirty rotten scoundrel in your book, but it is not in your children’s best interests to drag out a list of your ex’s shortcomings or you run the risk of losing parenting time.

If a parent refuse visits or makes the children feel uneasy about spending time with the other parent, they may be subject to consequences in court. It may be that an ex is behind on child support, but this does not give the other spouse a green light to interfere with parenting time. If you have concerns, then it is an issue that has to be sorted out in court not in a game of tug-of-war with the children. Of course, if you have immediate concerns about a child’s well-being in the presence of the other parent, such as a parent showing up to pick up the kids intoxicated, contact the police. Otherwise, contact your attorney to discuss problems with the parenting time arrangements.

Most children are part of a larger network of family and friends. Therefore, as a parent, it is important to avoid negative characterizations of your ex in general. Although you may need to blow off some steam about your ex-spouse, better to keep your resentment in check. As tempting as it may be to drag your ex through the mud for not showing up on time or not paying their fair share of expenses on behalf of your children, saying or posting derogatory things about your ex has a tendency to come back and haunt those who are doing the talking. It is not only bad policy for the kids, but may impact parenting time arrangements.

Remember the children’s best interests are paramount in a child custody determination – as it should be. Be careful that your resentment toward the other spouse does not boil over into mistreating the kids. A perfect case in point is one where an Illinois court granted an emergency motion of a mother restricting the father’s parenting time due to his conduct with two minor children. The father not only bad mouthed his ex in front of the children, but displayed his resentment by using profanity, threatening punishments, and otherwise showing an inability to control his anger. This obviously puts a significant emotional and mental toll on the children that is just not permissible no matter how much bad blood is flowing after the divorce. If you or your ex is grappling with lingering resentment following your divorce and children are involved, it is in everyone’s interest to seek counseling to work on the co-parenting relationship.

If you have concerns about an existing parenting time arrangement, contact the Libertyville Law Offices of Ronald L Bell & Associates for assistance today at 847-495-6000.

The post Badmouthing Could Result in the Loss of Parenting Time appeared first on Libertyville Divorce Lawyer, Lake County.

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Attorney Ronald L. Bell has been selected for inclusion as a President’s Circle Member into the Top Attorneys of North America 2019-2020. The accomplishments attained by Lake county Illinois family law Attorney Ronald Bell in the field of Legal Services warrants his inclusion into the Top Attorneys of North America. Congratulations Ron for your outstanding client service!

The post Ronald Bell Recognized as Top Attorney of North America appeared first on Libertyville Divorce Lawyer, Lake County.

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As a community, we want to protect victims of domestic abuse and children. Child protection and domestic violence services and investigations are rightly biased toward the goal of protecting vulnerable populations given the pervasiveness of domestic violence in the country.

However, at the same time, it is important to understand that this bias can be exploited resulting in one parent making unsubstantiated claims against another in a divorce in an attempt to gain custody of the children. This may take the shape of a temporary restraining order (TRO) you did not see coming. The first inkling you may have of a TRO is when you receive notice that it is has been granted.

If you receive a notice of TRO, the first steps are to notify your attorney. You will typically have an opportunity to answer and prepare for a hearing to tell your side of the story before a TRO is converted to a permanent restraining order so it is important to seek experienced legal representation.

Be sure to read the notice thoroughly so you do not violate any of its terms unintentionally. A protective order may forbid you to be within a certain distance of your spouse or children, including their home, work or schools.  Any violation of the order could increase the chance that it will become permanent.

Although you may feel that you are being mischaracterized and resent your spouse’s actions, make sure you keep your cool. Angry outbursts directed at your spouse in person, over the phone or through text messaging can be used as evidence of aggressive or irrational behavior that may work against you in court.

Remember that a hearing for a temporary restraining order is a serious event and you should work with your attorney to represent your case. If have questions regarding an Illinois TRO or protective order, contact the Libertyville Law Offices of Ronald L. Bell & Associates for more information at 847-495-6000.

The post Fighting a Temporary Restraining Order appeared first on Libertyville Divorce Lawyer, Lake County.

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Announcing the selection of Ronald L. Bell among America’s Top 100 Criminal Defense Attorneys® for 2019. Selection to America’s Top 100 Criminal Defense Attorneys® is by invitation only and is reserved to identify the nation’s most exceptional White-Collar and General Criminal Defense Attorneys in throughout the nation.
Candidates are carefully screened through comprehensive Qualitative Comparative Analysis based on a broad array of criteria, including the candidate’s professional experience, litigation experience, significant case results, representative high stakes matters, peer reputation, and community impact in order to rank the candidates throughout the state.
Only the top 100 qualifying attorneys in each state will receive this honor and be selected for membership among America’s Top 100 Criminal Defense Attorneys®. With these extremely high standards for selection to America’s Top 100 Criminal Defense Attorneys®, less than one-half percent (0.5%) of active attorneys in the United States will receive this honor — truly the most exclusive and elite level of attorneys in the community.

The post Ronald L. Bell Selected AMERICA’S TOP 100 CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEYS® appeared first on Libertyville Divorce Lawyer, Lake County.

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Many divorces between couples with children involve issues of child custody referred to as parenting time and parental responsibility in the state of Illinois. Parental responsibility has to do with who will be responsible for supporting the child and entitled to know about the child. For example, a parent awarded parental responsibility may be entitled to see medical and school records and participate in major decisions concerning the health and welfare of a child. It is common for both parents to have parental responsibility awarded – a divorce does not change the legal nature of the parent child relationship unless there are substantiated issues of repeated abuse or neglect that is of issue.

Illinois parenting time use to be thought of as who would have physical custody of a child and also how visitation with the non-custodial parent would be handled. This often worked out to be either joint custody, where both parents shared roughly equal time with the child, or sole physical custody with visitation arrangements. In contrast, the concept of Illinois parenting time does not use terms like sole physical custody or visitation that tend to drive a wedge between parents, but seeks an arrangement that is in the best interest of the child to include a relationship with both parents – one that sees them as partners in their child’s upbringing.

Coming up with a parenting time arrangement will include considerations such as where the child goes to school, where their friends and other important people in their lives reside, what extracurricular activities they attend, who has provided day to day care to child, the child’s wishes as well as the parents, and where the parents live geographically among other issues. Parenting time arrangements may have a child shifting between households on a regular rotation if parents live a block apart or perhaps every other weekend with split vacations if there is more travel involved. Certainly the age of a child is an important consideration when making decisions about where, how and with whom they will spend time with younger kids perhaps needing more consistent living arrangements while older kids may be able to navigate changing environments more easily .

Again the overarching legal principle which the courts use in determining parenting responsibility and parenting time is the best interests of the child. Of course there are sometimes differences in opinion about what exactly that means. Judges have a list of factors that they will consider in making a determination when child custody is in dispute, but certainly different judges can give different levels of importance to these factors. It is critical to get advice from an attorney who has experience with the particular judges who will be deciding a contested custody claim.  If you have questions or concerns regarding parenting responsibility or parenting time in an Illinois child custody matter, contact the Law Offices of Ronald L. Bell & Associates for immediate assistance at 847-495-6000. Attorney Ronald Bell has been practicing in Lake County Illinois for over three decades and can provide you with the information and resources you will need.

The post Factors Weighed in an Illinois Child Custody and Visitation Determination appeared first on Libertyville Divorce Lawyer, Lake County.

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Ronald L Bell has been recognized among the 10 Best Attorneys in Client Satisfaction by the American Institute of Family Law Attorneys for years 2017 – 2019. The American Institute is an impartial third party attorney rating organization that extends recognition to a select few attorneys who are at the top of their profession while providing the absolute best experience to their clients. Congratulations to Ron for this prestigious honor!

The post 10 Best Attorney in Client Satisfaction Award appeared first on Libertyville Divorce Lawyer, Lake County.

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