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Efficient Time Use Saves Money on DivorceSome costs are unavoidable during the divorce process. You will have to give up a share of your marital properties to your spouse as part of the agreement. A divorce court in Illinois will reject a division of property that it deems to be inequitable. There are mandatory filing and court fees. You can apply for a partial or total waiver of the fees, which the court may grant depending on how your income compares to the federal poverty level. Some divorcees will argue that an attorney is an optional expense, but representing yourself in a divorce has its own costs. There are other ways that anyone can save money on their divorce.

Help with Research

Before starting the divorce negotiations, you must prepare by identifying your marital properties and determining their value. A divorce attorney can do this research for you but will need to be paid for the hours they spend tracking down this information. The process can take days to weeks, depending on:

  • How many marital properties you own
  • Whether your spouse is willing to share information
  • How complicated it is to value a property

You can save your attorney time and yourself money by coming to your initial meetings with some of this information prepared. Have your financial account numbers, deeds to your properties, and receipts for major purchases. Ask your attorney what information they need. You may be able to find it more quickly than them.

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Five Documents You Must Update After DivorceChanging your marital status back to single has a wide-spread impact on various documents and forms of identification related to your life. There is a long list of updates that you will need to make, though many of them can wait until after you have completed your divorce. Failing to make these updates can cause confusion that will be more difficult to fix after the fact. You should write a list of documents that you need to update, which may include the following:

  1. Estate Plan: If you created a will or trust for after your death, your former spouse is likely the primary beneficiary. It is your choice whether your spouse should be completely cut out of the estate plan, but you likely want to change it from what you decided during your marriage. If you die before updating your estate plan, your former spouse and your family may get in a legal battle about who you intended to inherit your assets.
  2. Power of Attorney: An estate plan may include documents naming the person with the power of attorney over your health and financial decisions in the event that you are incapable of making your own decisions. Once again, your former spouse likely has this authority if the documents were created or updated during your marriage. You need to decide who should have the power of attorney instead.
  3. Life Insurance: You likely do not want your former spouse to benefit from your life insurance policy in the event of your death, but some divorcees still keep their former spouses as part of the policy. Life insurance could compensate your former spouse for spousal maintenance payments that you would no longer make after your death. If you want your children to be the sole beneficiaries of your life insurance, you may need to name your co-parent as the custodian of that money if the children are minors at the time of your death.
  4. Health Insurance: If you were previously on your spouse’s health insurance policy, you will need to sign up for your own insurance. If your spouse was previously on your insurance, you may be able to change your family plan to a single adult plan if you have no children or your children will be on your former spouse’s plan.
  5. Change of Address: If you have left your marital home, you need to update your permanent address with the state, such as on your driver’s license or state ID. You will also need to change your address on other accounts that include an address.

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer

Getting a divorce is a complicated process with as many small changes as there are big changes. A Kane County divorce attorney at Goostree Law Group can help you create a to-do-list for during and after your divorce. To schedule a free consultation, call 630-584-4800.

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Be Aware of the Social Media Activity of Children of DivorceChildren of divorce are often unsure of who to talk to about their feelings because their most natural outlet – their parents – is at the source of their pain. Social media is an easy alternative for them, where they can express themselves and connect with friends. Divorced parents may believe that there is no harm in letting their children withdraw into their mobile devices. After all, parents know where the children are. However, children can still get themselves into trouble on social media and are more prone to making poor decisions when experiencing a traumatic event, such as their parents' divorce.

Potential Problems

Children often fail to understand that what they say and do on social media can have real-life consequences. Posting offensive or inappropriate content reflects poorly on them now and leaves a record that could hurt them in the future, such as when they apply to a college. Sharing too much about themselves makes them appear vulnerable to people who try to exploit confused children and teenagers, such as:

  • Sexual predators;
  • Online scammers;
  • Cyberbullies; and
  • People trying to indoctrinate others into an extreme belief system.

Solutions

As a divorced parent, you must protect your children from unhealthy online behavior while also respecting their need for social connections and independence. Prohibiting them from having social media accounts is difficult to enforce and will make them rebellious. Installing parental controls feels demeaning to older children and should be done only if the child has demonstrated that they cannot be responsible on their own. There are more effective ways to protect your children:

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How I-Pass Data Can Be Used During DivorceMany drivers have an E-ZPass – known as an I-Pass in Illinois – registered to their vehicle. The transponder is convenient for passing through tolls without having to stop and throw in coins in a toll booth. Most drivers do not think about how the transponder can track their movements based on the toll roads they use. The Illinois Tollway keeps that information private but can be forced to share information on individual vehicles when they receive subpoenas. Law enforcement officials are the ones who most often subpoena I-Pass records for evidence of criminal activity. You may be surprised to learn that I-Pass records are also used in some divorce and family law cases.

Scenario

Let us say that you are paying spousal maintenance to your ex, who was unemployed at the time of the agreement. You have reason to believe that your former spouse has started a job, which would allow you to modify your maintenance payments. Your former spouse denies that they have a job to avoid any reduction in maintenance. As part of your evidence gathering, you could file a subpoena for your former spouse’s I-Pass records, which may show that they are passing through tolls at times that are consistent with going to and from a job. I-Pass records have also been used as evidence that a former spouse is cohabiting with a new romantic partner, which may allow the termination of spousal maintenance.

Privacy Concerns

Though you may not like the idea of the Illinois Tollway holding a digital record of your travel history, most people do not have anything important to hide if the record was released to a former spouse. However, WBEZ recently aired a story about how a man was able to circumvent an order of protection by filing a subpoena for his ex-girlfriend’s I-Pass records. The woman, who had a daughter with the man, received an order of protection to prevent the man from harassing her through frequent phone calls, letters to her home, and requests for police to conduct wellness checks on their daughter. The man filed a subpoena for the woman’s I-Pass records without her knowledge. The court approved the subpoena, which allowed the man to obtain:

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Cryptocurrency Difficult to Find, Value During DivorceMarital assets in a divorce can be intangible properties that hold great value, particularly in a high-asset divorce. Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, are a modern example of an intangible financial asset. Most divorces do not have cryptocurrencies because owners typically must have a combination of technological savvy and individual wealth. The value of one Bitcoin has hovered around $10,000 for the past few months. Owning cryptocurrency can make the division of property more complicated. You may need to hire a financial professional with knowledge of cryptocurrency and how it applies to divorce laws.

Hidden Asset

Cryptocurrencies are a decentralized and unregulated form of digital currency that originated in the past decade. The lack of a central bank or government oversight creates the risk that a divorcee could hide part of their assets by:

  • Using them to purchase cryptocurrency; and
  • Hiding the cryptocurrency in hard-to-find accounts.

You can trace most cryptocurrency transactions through digital records, but doing so may require a forensic accountant with experience investigating digital transactions. A divorcee may be able to cover their tracks by conducting transactions in person and erasing the digital evidence. Finding cryptocurrency during a divorce may continue to be a problem until there are greater regulations on the market.

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