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Chicago Illinois Family Law Blog

Tips for creating a prenup for a second marriage

There are several reasons that older Illinois couples entering a second marriage might want a prenuptial agreement. They may be bringing more assets into the marriage than a younger couple, and they also may want to make sure their children from the previous marriage still get some assets. A prenup can help a couple plan for retirement and even for what type of divorce they will have.

If there is a disparity in a couple's retirement savings, they may want to specify how they will structure distributions. The couple may also want to make provisions to ensure that the lower-earning spouse will walk away with some retirement savings if there is a divorce. Couples may want their prenup to state that they wish to resolve a divorce using a method such as mediation or arbitration instead of litigation.

Reasons for divorce follow common themes

Divorce rates across Illinois and the United States follow certain predictable patterns that are often associated with changes in the economy and changes in social norms and traditions. Although these fluctuations can typically be seen clearly when charted on a graph and measured against major events, there are a number of reasons for the dissolution of marriage that transcend trends.

According to research provided by Insider, infidelity continues to rank among the top reasons for divorce across the country. Infidelity and extramarital affairs have been a concern for married couples throughout time, and unfortunately, infidelity persists as a problem that leads to divorce today. Additionally, Insider points out that conflict, arguing and a lack of communication are all major reasons for marital dissatisfaction that leads to divorce. As with infidelity, these are struggles faced by married couples from all walks of life.

Marriages more likely to end when wife is ill, studies say

When women in Illinois develop cancer or other illnesses, the likelihood that they will get a divorce increases. According to a study that appeared in 2015 in "The Journal of Health and Social Behavior," there is no similar increase in divorce risk when men become ill.

Other studies support this. One study, conducted by researchers at Purdue University and Iowa State University, examined how more than 2,700 marriages were affected by lung disease, heart disease, cancer and stroke. Women who developed heart disease or who had strokes were at even greater risk for divorce than those with lung disease and cancer. The same effects were not seen when men became ill.

Who keeps the dog when you divorce?

A divorce is a painful and complicated process, bringing both financial and emotional stress. Couples face a number of contentious issues such as child custody and property division when they’re separating. And not surprisingly, one of the more common heated issues in divorce is who gets to keep the dog or cat.

Families have long considered their pets to be an extended part of the family and people have strong bonds with their animals. That means deciding where the pet will live causes quite a bit of friction and emotion.

Parents should put best interests of children first

Divorce is among the most stressful experiences a person can go through in life, and parents who are divorcing may have to deal with issues of custody and support. Child custody cases can be severely contentious in Illinois, as they involve decisions that will impact the parents and the children for years. When possible, parents should strive to establish a co-parenting plan that serves the needs of all parties without relying entirely on judges for decisions.

Where they can't agree though, there are some things parents should keep in mind to make their co-parenting efforts more likely to succeed. The parents should face their own emotions regarding the relationship ending, and attempt to let go of any anger or bitterness. Lingering negative emotions between the parents are potentially detrimental to the children. Each of the parents should stay focused on the best interests of the child. Neither parent should ignore the existence of the other because to do so is to invalidate some part of the child.

2019 brings new tax rules impacting divorce

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that went into effect in December of 2017 was designed to lower the tax burden of American families. However, the legislation will also have a big impact on couples seeking to finalize their Illinois divorces in 2019. Depending on individual circumstances, some exes will fare better than others under the tax changes.

The most significant change that will occur has to do with alimony payments. The long-standing tax rule that alimony is deductible by the payor and taxed as income to the payee has been abolished for divorces finalized in 2019. Instead, alimony will be considered a non-taxable event by the IRS. The likely effect for most couples is that the payor, who typically is in a higher tax bracket, will see a greater tax consequence than the benefit the payee in a lower bracket.

How parent's home influences custody decisions

A parent's living situation plays a role in the decisions that courts make about child custody. For parents in Illinois, the concern might be about what aspects of home and living situation courts consider before making decisions.

While the court's considerations vary from state to state, most courts will look at the age and gender of the child, their ability to adapt to different circumstances, the size of a parent's family as well as the parent's particular situation when making judgments about child custody. A child's age and gender are important when thinking about where the child will stay and if the child will have enough privacy in the home of a parent of the opposite sex. The size of the parent's family and the number of other siblings are considered when looking at living situations, particularly because a parent with multiple children might not have a private space for the child to stay in. Courts will also look at how easily the child adapts to different situations and what the impact of a move will have on the child.

Coparenting can be collaborative or parallel

Illinois parents headed for divorce are generally most concerned about child custody arrangements. The best parenting arrangements are collaborative and encourage as much communication as possible between the parties. Unfortunately, this can be quite counterproductive when there is a high degree of acrimony between the parties. If parents simply cannot interact without causing stress to their children, a parallel parenting plan may be the best option for everyone considered.

In a parallel parenting agreement, the parties agree to a plan that meticulously accommodates as many contingencies as possible under the guidance of family law professionals such as attorneys and mediators. The goal is to limit interactions between the parties to coordinating logistics involving the children in a predetermined manner. Typically, email is the preferred mode of communication, and messages are businesslike and formal. The parties must give up the notion of controlling or being involved in activities while the children are in custody of the other parent. For many, this can be liberating, but it is abundantly stressful for others. Whatever the frustration level is for a parent, acceptance of the reality is mandatory unless he or she wishes to run afoul of the courts.

Prenuptial agreements are not only for the wealthy

Celebrity couples and those from wealthy families attract a great deal of attention, especially when they announce their nuptials. Speculation often surrounds the question of how long the marriage will last. Along those lines, rumors often swirl regarding prenuptial agreements. However, these days, a regular Illinois couple may be just as likely as a famous couple to establish a prenup.

In recent years, legal experts have reported a greater than 50 percent increase in prenups. This is not necessarily reflective of increased resources between couples. Instead, it's more a recognition that they may be entering into a marriage with something of value to them. This can be something as seemingly benign as a pet, but it could also be something that will take on increased value during the marriage.

Making your divorce announcement during the holidays

The holiday seasons are approaching, and you and your spouse are talking about divorce. Do you put on a happy face for family gatherings or announce the news in person while everyone is in one spot?

Here are a few considerations to keep in mind if you're thinking of making your divorce announcement over the holidays.

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