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Are Student Loans a Marital Debt During Divorce?Student loans are among the largest debts that many Americans have and can be difficult to get rid of. Even bankruptcy is unlikely to discharge your student loans. When you are married, your spouse can help you keep up with your bills or even cosign on your student loan agreement. However, what happens to your student loan debts during your divorce? In Illinois, divorcing spouses equitably divide their marital debts. There are five important questions that determine whether student loan debts qualify as marital debts and how they will be divided during your divorce:

  1. When Were the Student Loan Debts Created?: The primary difference between marital and nonmarital debts is whether you entered the debt while you were married. If you took out a student loan while you were married, you will likely classify it as a marital debt. If your student loans originated before your marriage, they are likely a nonmarital debt that you are solely responsible for. 
  2. Whose Name Is on the Contract?: From the creditor’s perspective, the people responsible for your student loans are the ones whose names are on the student loan agreement. The creditor may require your spouse to cosign on the agreement if you take out a student loan or refinance a premarital student loan agreement while married. If your spouse’s name is not on the agreement, you can negotiate for them to help repay your student loans as part of your divorce, but the creditor will hold you responsible if your spouse does not follow through.
  3. What Does Your Prenup Say?: A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can decide how you will divide debts during divorce, including your student loans. If you have a prenuptial agreement, it may state that you will be solely responsible for your own student loan debts or that your spouse will help pay your nonmarital student loans.
  4. Do You Both Have Student Loans?: An equitable division of debt means it must be fair given the circumstances and not necessarily equal. If you both incurred student loan debts of similar value during your marriage, you can agree to each be responsible for your own student loans.
  5. How Was the Money Used?: It may also be equitable for a spouse to be responsible for their own student loans if all of the money went towards paying for their education and benefiting their career. However, spouses sometimes use student loan money to pay for marital expenses, which may mean it is fair for both spouses to share the debt.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Attorney

Your marital debts are part of a larger financial picture in your divorce, including how you will divide your marital properties. A St. Charles, Illinois, divorce lawyer at Goostree Law Group can help you create a strategy for financial success in your divorce. Schedule a free consultation by calling 630-584-4800.

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Posted on in Children of divorce

How Courts Handle Religion in Parenting CasesThe allocation of parental responsibilities includes the responsibility to make decisions about the religious upbringing of the children. Illinois divorce courts prefer to not be in charge of deciding the religious beliefs by which the parents should raise the children. The state does not want to be seen as favoring one religion over another or dictating how people can practice their religious beliefs. If parents reach an agreement on religious upbringing, the court is instructed to approve it unless there is something unconscionable about the conditions. However, there are circumstances in which the court is forced to intervene in the parents’ religious decisions.

Lack of Agreement

When two sides in a divorce cannot reach an agreement on their own, they must take the argument to the court for a ruling. With religion, parents may disagree on:

  • Which religion the children should follow
  • Whether the children should be involved in religion at all
  • How often the children should attend religious services
  • Whether the children must follow the religion’s lifestyle guidelines

As with all parenting issues, the court’s primary concern is what is best for the children. The court will look at the extent of the children’s religious involvement up to this point and the potential consequences to each parent. Forcing children to follow a stricter religious lifestyle than they are accustomed to may make their post-divorce transition more upsetting. A parent can potentially use religion to control the children and limit their time and relationship with their other parent. On the other side of the issue, it may be unreasonable for a parent to demand that the children stop attending religious services if that has been their normal routine up to this point.

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Illinois Courts Cannot Discriminate Against Parents for Legal Marijuana UseA child’s safety with a parent is one of the factors that a family court will consider when allocating parental responsibilities during a divorce or separation. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services will also consider this when determining whether to let someone adopt a child or become their legal guardian. Illegal drug use in the home is a red flag that a parent may be irresponsible and creating a dangerous environment for a child. However, some of the assumptions on drug use will change starting in 2020, when Illinois officially legalizes the recreational use of marijuana.

No Discrimination Against Legal Users

The "Illinois Cannabis and Tax Act" includes a section that is titled “Discrimination prohibited.” The section states that the lawful use of marijuana under this act cannot be the “sole or primary basis or supporting basis” for limiting someone’s rights as a parent or right to adopt or become a guardian of a child. This means a court cannot reduce your parenting time or decision making responsibilities based on your co-parent complaining that you use recreational marijuana, as long as you use it in a legal and responsible manner. Likewise, the Illinois DCFS cannot cite your legal marijuana use as a reason for denying your adoption request.

Irresponsible Use

As with other legal drugs, marijuana use will still impact your parental fitness if you are irresponsible with it. A court may decide that your marijuana use is a danger to your children if:

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Posted on in Division of Property

Preparing to Sell Your House During DivorceMany divorcing couples conclude that selling their house is the best way to handle their marital home. It is difficult to equitably divide their marital properties when one spouse keeps the house, and the cost of owning the home may be too great for one person on their own. By selling the home instead, they can divide the money they receive in the sale and use it towards expenses, such as buying or renting a new home. If you have sold your home before, you understand that it takes a great effort to prepare your home for sale and find a buyer. Unfortunately, your divorce is taking up much of the energy that you might normally devote to the sale. There are several actions that you can take to help with the sale process:

  1. Keep the House Occupied: It is natural for one of you to move out of the house once the divorce process has started. The other spouse should continue living in the house until the sale is finalized, even if they would prefer to move into their new home before then. It is more difficult to sell a house that is empty of people or possessions. Paying to stage furniture and appliances in the house is an extra expense and still less attractive to buyers than you living in the house.
  2. Fill in Empty Spaces: When one spouse removes their possessions from the house, it can leave unattractive empty spaces in rooms. You should spread out your remaining possessions to fill in those spaces and give the house a more balanced look.
  3. Invest in Maintenance: You do not want home maintenance issues to decrease the sale value of your house. You need to assess your home for necessary repairs and try to fix the issues before you put the house on the market. Because you will both be profiting from the sale, it is reasonable to share the maintenance costs with your spouse.
  4. Find a Divorce-Experienced Seller: When selling your home and divorcing at the same time, you need a real estate agent to manage the sale while also understanding how the divorce changes the process. Divorcing couples are different than other co-owners because they are under additional stress and often not communicating with each other. The agent may need to take on more responsibility in the sale process and make sure both spouses feel like their needs are being met.

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Attorney

Your house may be the most valuable and complicated property you will have to include in your divorce agreement. A Kane County divorce lawyer at Goostree Law Group has experience with all manner of house-related issues in a divorce. To schedule a free consultation, call 630-584-4800.

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Posted on in Divorce

Technology Affecting the Way People DivorceDigital technology has changed how people interact with each other, which affects important relationships such as marriages. It may be a stretch to say that social media and phone use are causing people to get divorced, but they may be an obstacle to repairing a damaged marriage. Once people have decided to divorce, digital technology has changed the process – in helpful ways but also in ways that require caution. As a result, technology and communication have grown in importance as it relates to divorce.

Technology Leading Up to Divorce

Spending more time socializing on your digital devices usually means less time interacting with people in person such as your spouse. Direct communication is one of the key tools that couples use to keep their relationships strong and resolve differences between each other. Digital technology also creates new opportunities for marital conflicts, such as discovering that your spouse is having an affair with someone through electronic correspondences or has been using your money on hidden purchases.

Technology During a Divorce

We live in a digital information age that provides divorcees with more resources than ever before, including:

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