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St. Charles Family Law AttorneyAny married person can tell you that marriage takes work. Over the years, many couples find themselves exasperated and considering divorce. Financial stress, child-related concerns, infidelity, and countless other issues can harm a marriage relationship. However, it can be difficult to know when a marriage is truly beyond saving. This is why many married couples agree to a “trial separation” before deciding whether or not to get divorced. If you are thinking about a trial separation, keep the following things in mind.

Being Separated and Being Legally Separated Are Two Different Things

The term “separated” is often used to describe a situation in which a married couple is living separately but has not yet begun divorce proceedings. Usually, when couples talk about a trial separation, they are referring to an informal agreement to live separate lives for a certain period of time. This situation should not be confused with a legal separation.

When couples get a legal separation, they have the opportunity to divide marital assets and debts and address other divorce issues like child support and child custody. Legal separation allows couples to protect their financial interests while keeping the marriage intact. If spouses are living separately but not legally separated, these legal protections do not exist. Any property or debts accumulated by either spouse may be considered marital property and therefore jointly held by both spouses. This property and debt would need to be divided during divorce.

St. Charles Property Division LawyerSeparating finances is often one of the most complicated parts of the divorce process. Because the division of assets and debts can have such a significant impact on spouses’ post-divorce future, it is also often one of the most contentious aspects of the divorce process. If you are getting divorced in Kane County, it is important to understand how marital property is divided according to Illinois law.

Dividing Property and Debts During Divorce

Countless factors influence the complexity of the property division process, including the spouses’ ability to agree. If you and your spouse are on relatively good terms, you may be able to reach a property division settlement outside of court. Your respective lawyers can help you negotiate the terms of your property division arrangement if you and your spouse struggle to reach an agreement on your own. If you are unable to reach an agreement or settlement, the court will determine how to divide property for you. Illinois courts divide marital property according to a principle called “equitable distribution.”

What is Equitable Distribution?  

There are two main legal theories when it comes to dividing assets and debts in a divorce: Community property and equitable distribution. Illinois is an equitable distribution state. Courts divide assets and debts in a manner that is fair, or equitable given the spouses’ particular circumstances. Contrary to popular opinion, assets and debts are not split exactly in half.

St. Charles Divorce AttorneyMarriage is about much more than money. However, managing financial issues is often a huge aspect of the marital relationship. Consequently, finances are also a massive consideration in a divorce case. In Illinois, divorcing spouses are required to disclose all assets and income. Unfortunately, many spouses try to gain an unfair advantage by hiding assets. Read on to learn about some of the red flags of hidden assets in divorce and what you should do if you suspect your spouse is lying about property or money in your divorce.

Your Spouse Keeps You in the Dark About Finances

In many marriages, one spouse handles financial issues like investments and paying the bills while the other spouse handles other concerns. Unfortunately, this division of labor can backfire during divorce. If your spouse hides financial documents, changes passwords on online bank accounts, or intentionally keeps you in the dark about finances, this may be a sign he or she is hiding something.

Your Spouse’s Business is Unexpectedly Failing

Business owners have an even greater number of ways to manipulate finances in a divorce. If your spouse owns a business, he or she may try to undervalue the business by changing profit and loss statements, delaying invoices, or increasing prices. If your spouse owned a successful business but now claims the business is failing, this may be a sign he or she is trying to deceive you.

Kane County Child Support LawyerParents have the obligation to provide financial support for their children. To ensure that children will have the resources that will fully address their ongoing needs, child support will usually be ordered in cases where married parents choose to divorce or when unmarried parents are separated. In many of these cases, one parent will have primary physical custody, meaning that children will live with them the majority of the time, and this parent will usually receive child support payments from the other parent. However, there are some situations where parents may have equal or 50/50 custody, and determining the parents’ child support obligations in these cases can be more complex.

Child Support and Shared Physical Care

In Illinois, child support obligations are calculated by taking the income earned by both parents into account. These obligations are determined by considering the amount that married parents would usually be expected to spend on child-related expenses. The state of Illinois uses tables that detail the appropriate amount of support based on parents’ combined income and their number of children.

In most cases, the amount of child support determined using these tables will be divided between parents, with each parent being responsible for a percentage of the amount of child support based on the income they earn. That is, if a parent earns 30 percent of the couple’s combined income, they will be responsible for 30 percent of the child support obligation, and the other parent will be responsible for 70 percent of the obligation. When one parent is the custodial parent, the other parent will make child support payments to them.

wheaton divorce lawyerA divorce will affect spouses in multiple ways, and they will need to address a wide variety of issues as they make sure they will be able to move forward successfully and establish new lives separate from each other. However, a person who relies on their spouse to provide for their family’s financial needs may be concerned about their ability to provide for themselves following their divorce. This can be a significant concern for stay-at-home parents, since a person who does not work outside the home may worry that they will need to seek employment and make arrangements for childcare. In some cases, these issues may be addressed through spousal maintenance (also known as alimony) in which one spouse will pay financial support to the other following the couple’s divorce.

Eligibility for Spousal Maintenance

Following a divorce, both spouses should be able to maintain their standard of living. While spouses will need to make some adjustments, they should each be able to continue living in a way that they were used to while they were married. Divorcing parents will want to avoid upending their children’s lives and making major changes that could affect children’s emotional health and their ability to succeed in school or live comfortably at home. To avoid these types of disruptions, a stay-at-home parent should be able to continue serving in this role after ending their marriage.

If a parent has chosen to forego employment in order to provide care for children and attend to household duties, they may receive spousal maintenance from their former spouse to ensure that they will be able to cover household expenses. However, maintenance will not be automatically awarded. A couple may agree that spousal support will be paid in a settlement created during an uncontested divorce. If a couple cannot reach an agreement, the spouse who is seeking maintenance may ask a family court judge to require the other spouse to pay them support.

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