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One of the biggest concerns most people going through a divorce have is how the property will be distributed and whether one party will be entitled to more assets if the other party’s misconduct led to the divorce itself. First off, Illinois is an equitable property state and the court is prohibited from considering marital misconduct when dividing the marital estate. In every case, the court will try to divide the property fairly without even considering the wrongdoings of either side. The type of property subject to division includes but is not limited to pension and retirement accounts, stocks, homes, and vehicles. In order to divide the property equally, the court will consider factors such as: the duration of the marriage, value of the property, each person’s contribution to the property, the needs of both parties, and obviously pre-nuptial agreements.
Next, the court will have to decide whether the property subject to division is considered non-marital or marital property. Non-marital property is any property acquired before the marriage occurred or property acquired by gift or legacy. This also includes the increase in value during marriage of that particular property. Marital property is basically all property acquired by either spouse during marriage. It includes property such as vehicles, homes, or stocks, and is subject to equitable division upon dissolution of the marriage. The courts will look at the nature of the property and how it was acquired, rather than who owns the title. For example, even though a retirement plan is on one spouse’s name, if that plan was acquired during the duration of marriage, both sides have common ownership in it. Although it may seem fairly complex, the division of property is considered on case by case basis and majority of cases are settled after all the factors have been considered.
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The child support law in Illinois is changing on July 1. The current child support statute has a very clear formula for determining child support. Generally, child support is determined based on the net income of the parent that is not the residential parent of the minor child(ren). The formula is very clear to follow in that child support for one child is set at 20% of the nonresidential parent’s net income, 28% for two children and so on.
The new law that will come into effect on July 1, 2017 no longer will use the same formula and will instead be based on the parents combined income. The new approach is tentatively called the income shared approach. The child support obligations will initially be determined by calculating the net income of each parent and then combining the two incomes to determine the “Total Family Income.” The Total Family Income will be then be compared to an average family with similar income and number of children. Basically, the new calculations will require the Court to determine the income of both parents as opposed to only the nonresidential parent. What makes preparing for the change in the child support law a little challenging is that the The Illinois Department of Health and Family Services has not yet published charts that will be used to determine child support in each specific case. The second change that will take effect with the new law is that the statute will provide for adjustments to child support amounts based upon the number of overnights each parent has physical possession of the minor child or children. The new law provides a formula that will basically reduce the child support obligation of the nonresidential parent if that parent has the minor child or the minor children for 146 or more nights per year.
The biggest issue that I foresee practitioners and the Courts having with the new law is the fact that the chart that will be used to reference the percentage of child support owed by a parent is not available as of today’s date and therefore there has been no time to fully and adequately prepare for the change in the law which will most likely result in the Courts learning on the go which may result in some miscalculations in the early stages.
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There are thousands of people who file for divorce every year. Divorce can be one of the most stressful experiences a person can go through. Finding and hiring the right divorce attorney can be the main difference in how smooth the process will go. While there are undoubtedly numerous factors that have to be taken into account in a divorce proceeding (like the reasonableness of the spouse, the income of the client, and the willingness of the opposing counsel to settle matter quickly and amicably), having the right attorney on your side can be the factor that makes your life easier. Naturally, the question arises, just how important is it to have the right family law attorney on your side throughout this difficult time?
In a divorce proceeding multiple issues have to be settled including but not limited to division of property, spousal support, child support and custody. An experienced family law attorney will be able to balance various factors and assess complex situations in an effort to better advise their client.
While experience is a factor, a good attorney is more than just well versed in the courtroom. The right attorney should be able to be completely objective about your case especially when encountering a highly contentious issue and dealing with situations where emotions are running high. Being able to take a step back and approach a case objectively will minimize the making of rash decisions and will set the table for a quicker resolution/settlement.
In essence, the quicker you are able to settle your divorce, the less you will pay. An attorney who has the ability to maintain composure, stay calm and focused will lead to the greatest results. Moreover, the right attorney should be able to communicate with other lawyers because in the end, it’s the attorneys who negotiate the entirety of the case. An attorney who can communicate and convey a message clearly and easily will facilitate fruitful negotiations and keep the costs down.
All in all, when it comes to divorce proceedings, a person should look beyond the simple notions of hiring any lawyer and should sit down and get to know the person they will be working with. A divorce is not a simple matter and can take months if not years to settle. So before you rush into hiring just anyone, take the time and research to make sure that you are being represented by the right person who not only has the skill but, also the will to work with you in your time of need.