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Cook County Family Law Blog

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.  

Collaborative law: Both sides get a win

Collaborative law is designed to help people work together to resolve their disputes during a divorce. It's a relatively new process, and its goal is to help resolve the case rather than to have one party win over the other.

While working through the collaborative law process, each party has to agree to disclose all of their documents and to be honest. They also have to agree not to take advantage of miscalculations or inadvertent mistakes that take place. Instead of taking advantage of the other person, the requirement is that they identify mistakes and help correct them before moving forward.

Want more time together? Consider virtual parenting

As technology advances, it's becoming easier to stay in touch than ever before. This can be a huge benefit for parents who have to share custody of their children. Instead of relying on letters or simple phone calls, they can now participate actively in their children's lives through video calls and video games. They can interact through digital media, like with quick text messages of voice messages.

Some people worry that the option of having virtual visitation makes it more likely that parents will infringe on the other parent's visitation time. That's not true. Why? Virtual visitation times are set up in the same way as general visitation schedules.

Business succession planning is an important part of an estate plan

Owning a small business may have been your dream since a young age. Now that you are older and have successfully run that business for years, you may feel ready to plan for your company's continued success after you no longer play a part in the everyday operations.

Even if you do not plan to retire immediately, having a business succession plan in place is wise. You may feel a sense of security in knowing that you have prepared your business for a smooth transition in the event of your retirement or other events that may result in you no longer participating in the company. Of course, it is also important that you make your plans legally binding.

Understand what collaborative law means for you

Collaborative law is a way to resolve disputes in a calm and focused setting, instead of in a courtroom. This process is a way to discuss and problem-solve, not a process to "fight" with one another expecting a victor.

Each party must retain a separate specially trained Collaborate attorney for the Collaborative law process, helping to ensure that your best interests are being taken care of. Other Collaborative professionals are involved in a Collaborative divorce as needed, such as a financial neutral, a divorce coach, and a child specialist.  The job at hand is to settle the dispute or problem without going to court. If you do end up filing with the court, then the process ends and neither attorney can continue to work with you moving forward. This is an incentive for all to work hard to help create a settlement that works for the entire family.

Should you update your estate plan after divorce?

A divorce is a major life change. With all the things you have to handle during a divorce, it may seem like working on your estate plan should have to wait. However, the reality is that adjusting your estate plan and updating it is necessary when you go through a divorce.

Your estate plan has many important documents. One of those important documents is your will. In your will, you dictate what you'd like to see after your death. Prior to your divorce, you may have referenced your ex-spouse or stepchildren. Following your divorce, there may be people that you don't want to include as your beneficiaries or that you don't want to be involved in your care if you fall ill.

What's a good way to work through disputes during divorce?

Many people, even those on good terms with their estranged spouses, still have times when they become involved in disputes with them. It might be over money, property or children, but the same issue applies: They can't agree.

This is one of the sticking points in many divorces, so it's important that people quickly learn how to resolve disputes. If they can't, the divorce could drag on for many months or years.

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

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