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Cook County Family Law Blog

Why try a collaborative divorce?

Collaborative divorces are very popular because they save time and money while preventing serious conflict. A Collaborative divorce takes your divorce out of the traditional trial-based system and places into a setting where you're expected to negotiate to resolve disputes.

There are many benefits to going through a Collaborative divorce rather than taking your disputes to trial. These include:

  • Saving money and emotional distress
  • Having a less formal setting to discuss your divorce's resolution
  • Being able to freely exchange information in an honest, informal environment
  • Being able to negotiate for a result that works for you and having control over that result instead of having one imposed on you by the court
  • Deciding how to handle disputes over settlements that already occurred
  • Working effectively on your divorce with the support of team members that are appropriate for your case

Can't decide on custody? Try mediation

In a divorce case that involves children, it is common for parents to struggle with the idea of spending less time with their kids. The reality is that there is no way to give both parents as much time as they want with their children. The time simply has to be apportioned. Parenting agreements and custody schedules vary, so that is something that you and your spouse will need to talk about in detail prior to the finalization of your divorce.

Protect yourself during divorce and know if you need support

When you're an older divorcee, one of the things you have to be cautious of is protecting your finances. You may need retirement funds, or you might need to focus on obtaining part of your spouse's pension. Whatever the case may be, the reality is that you may not have time to start a new career or to move up to the level you would have if you'd started younger.

The cost of living is much higher for individuals than it is for people living together. In fact, your expenses may be 40% to 50% higher if you're living alone. The reality is that divorcing later in life can ruin retirement plans since you'll be focused on paying up to 50% more to cover your financial needs. That could mean you have to go back to work, even if it wasn't in your original plan. It also means you may need to seek out additional spousal support or maintenance.

Estate plan changes that can't wait until after the divorce

When you and your spouse decided to divorce, you may have felt overwhelmed with the decisions you had to make. Your first concern may have been for your children's well-being, but you also wanted to be sure your finances were in reasonably good shape for your post-divorce life. You may have had to find new living arrangements and determine how you would divide the furniture and other assets.

There may be one more thing you are overlooking. If you have not addressed your estate plan in light of the changes in your marital status, you may be leaving some very important work undone. Your estate plan may no longer express your wishes, and it may be a matter of urgency to modify those documents.

Mediation can work for contentious divorces, too

You and your spouse don't see eye-to-eye, and that's been further established by the animosity during your divorce. Every time you do one thing you believe will help, your estranged spouse seems to lash out at you in anger and vice-versa.

You may both actually want to talk to one another and work out a solution, but with such a hard time communicating, it may feel impossible. The good news is that those who are willing to meet and attempt to have a discussion can benefit from mediation.

Who can ask for alimony, and should you?

Alimony is something that many people want to discuss but may not know where to start. Alimony, better known as spousal support or maintenance, is based on formulas set by the state. However, the reality is that many couples are able to agree on an amount of alimony prior to divorce regardless of the laws or what they suggest the right amount of alimony is.

Spousal support or maintenance is about negotiation. Right now, the 2018 changes in alimony formulas in Illinois mean that many maintenance orders will be shorter than in the past. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act also impacted deductions for alimony payments, which means that your ex-spouse won't be able to write off the payments as a tax deduction. This all negatively impacts those who are meant to receive alimony to support themselves.

Mediate to save yourself time, energy and money

Some people, particularly those with firm preconceptions about divorce, may believe that divorce has to be an aggressive, argumentative situation. They might believe that it's normal to try to bring your spouse down instead of resolving the case in as much of a "win-win" scenario as possible.

Much of this myth of aggressive divorces comes from the media. After all, it's much more exciting to watch people fight than to work out their problems in a calm manner. However, in many cases, that's exactly what happens. People get together, talk through their conflicts, and come up with a resolution that works for both parties.

Same-sex divorce may have special complications

While the state of Illinois legalized same-sex marriage only months before the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2015, you may have been among the many who rejoiced and celebrated when the federal government acknowledged your right to marry the person you love, no matter which state you live in.

The court's ruling gives you every right and privilege that opposite-sex couples have enjoyed for centuries, including the right to make medical decisions for your spouse, take advantage of tax benefits for married couples, and adopt and raise children as a family. The new law also gives you the right to divorce. Unfortunately, because of the long wait for legalized same-sex marriage, your divorce may have unique complications.

Uniform Transfers to Minors Act: Don't take your child's funds

The Uniform Transfers to Minors Act, also known as UTMA, is a type of custodial account set up for minors by adults. Many people set these accounts up for their children and grandchildren. For example, you might add $20,000 to a UTMA account for your child's schooling in the future.

When you place money into a UTMA account, that money is no longer yours to withdraw. It is protected and belongs to the minor named on the account.

How long does child support last?

As a parent who has been ordered to pay child support, you may be interested in when you can end it as well. It's not that you don't want to provide for your child, but the reality is that once you don't have a required payment, you'll still continue to provide for your child in other ways. Having a constant withdrawal from your accounts is stressful, and it's understandable.

Child support does have an end date. In Illinois, child support usually ends when a child is emancipated which is generally upon reaching 18 years of age.  If the child is still in high school on their 18th birthday, then child support will end upon graduation from high school so long as the child has not reached the age of 19.  

  • Court Certified Mediator Domestic Relations
  • Collaborative Practice Resolving Disputes Respectfully
  • Collaborative Law Institute Of Illinois

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