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How to Determine Whether an Inheritance Is a Marital Property in DivorceMost properties that you obtain during your marriage are classified as marital properties in the event of a divorce, such as items you have purchased and the income you have earned. Gifts and inheritances are the exceptions to this rule. Inheritances are assets given to you through an estate planning document, such as a trust or will, or after the probate process. Even if you inherit an asset while you are married, it is usually a nonmarital property as long as you can prove that the person who gave it to you intended for you to be the sole owner of the property. However, your decision on what to do with a property after you inherit it can make it marital property.

Commingling and Transmuting

An inherited property can become marital property if you commingle it with other marital properties or involve your spouse in its ownership or management. For instance:

  • Inherited money becomes marital property if you put it into a joint account with other marital money; or
  • Inherited real estate becomes marital property if you refinance the property and your spouse cosigns on the agreement.

In these situations, your inherited properties are either transmuted into marital properties through your actions or become indistinguishable from your martial properties because they are commingled. As marital property, your inheritance could be divided between you and your divorcing spouse or given to you in exchange for other marital properties. As nonmarital property, your inheritance would not count towards the equitable division of property.

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Is It Time to Update Your Prenuptial Agreement?A prenuptial agreement is a useful document to have in the unfortunate event that you ever decide to divorce. With all of the turmoil in a divorce, it can be a relief to have some of the negotiation work already complete. However, a prenup should not be a static agreement that you do not examine unless a divorce occurs. Your financial means and needs have changed since your marriage began. At worst, you may discover that your agreement is obsolete once it comes time to use it. You should periodically check your prenuptial agreement during your marriage and update it if necessary.

Division of Property

A prenuptial agreement can list which items will be included in your division of marital property and who will receive them. Many of the properties listed in your original prenuptial agreement are nonmarital properties because you owned them before your marriage. When modifying your agreement you can:

  • Add major properties that you have accumulated since the start of your marriage;
  • Remove properties that you no longer own; and
  • Update the value of the properties that were already in the agreement.

For instance, it is common for a spouse’s business to increase in value since the time when they created the agreement. The division of property in the agreement may now be unbalanced because of that change in value. The spouses can renegotiate whether they will share ownership of the business if they divorce or agree to give the other spouse more properties as compensation.

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Posted on in Child Custody

How Apps Can Help You with Co-ParentingWith the popularity of smartphone applications, it is no surprise that there are several apps related to divorce. Among these, co-parenting apps seem to be the most common. There are apps that help you create a parenting schedule, communicate with your co-parent and even make child support payments. Many apps will require you to pay a subscription fee to use their most advanced tools, and you should thoroughly research an app before you decide to rely on it for your co-parenting needs. There are several ways that a co-parenting app can be useful to a modern, two-household family:

  1. Organization: Most co-parenting apps have a shared calendar feature. You could also use a basic calendar application that will not require any fees. A calendar app records your parenting schedule and can give automated reminders about when you are supposed to pick up and drop off your children. More advanced apps allow you to track and share child-related expenses, which is a helpful record when calculating child support payments.
  2. Communication with Your Co-Parent: For some people, talking to their co-parent through an app is less stressful than a phone call. Some apps are designed to help co-parents communicate with each other in an organized setting. A message through an app is less intrusive than a text message and easier to notice than an email. You may not be expecting an email from your co-parent but will know to check the app for messages. Some apps scan your messages for emotionally charged language and warn you before you send the message.
  3. Communication with Children: Your children need to know when they are scheduled to be with each parent, as well as have a safe forum to communicate with their parents. You may need to tell your child that you are running a little late, or your child may need to tell you about a change in their school or social schedule. You can communicate with your children through normal texting and phone calls, but using an app can help you both stay organized. An app also helps you separate your messages to them about your parenting schedule from messages that are purely social.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

Apps can be useful tools during and after a divorce but are not a replacement for an experienced divorce lawyer. A St. Charles, Illinois, divorce attorney at Goostree Law Group can help you create your parenting plan and advise you when changes are necessary. Schedule a free consultation by calling 630-584-4800.

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Posted on in Divorce

When to Appeal a Divorce or Family Law RulingAn unfavorable ruling in a divorce or family law court is not always the end of your case. You have the right to appeal a circuit court ruling in hopes of overturning it. You have 30 days to file a notice of appeal, in which you will explain why you believe the court’s decision should be reversed or remanded. An appellate court may reverse a lower court’s decision if:

  • The decision went against the manifest weight of evidence;
  • The court misinterpreted or misapplied the law; or
  • The trial was conducted in an unfair manner.

Appeals of divorce or family law cases are less common than with criminal cases, in which the appellant may be trying to avoid prison time. Appellate courts tend to trust the judgment of lower courts unless there is an egregious error. However, an appeal may be worth your time if you believe you have a strong argument.

Parental Responsibilities

Illinois law instructs courts to divide parenting time based on what is in the best interest of the children. If you file an appeal to obtain more parenting time, you will need to explain why the original ruling is not best for your children. You may argue that the lower court did not give proper weight to factors that show that your children would benefit by spending more time with you, such as:

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Posted on in Divorce

Should Divorcees Go Back to School?August is back-to-school time for children – as well as for some adults. If you have recently divorced, it may be imperative that you find a job that will allow you to support yourself. You may be required to do so if you are receiving spousal maintenance. Continuing education can help you start a new career or qualify for better-paying positions in your current career. However, it is also an investment of time and money that may not be worth it in some cases. Before starting on the path towards a degree or certification, you should consider your options.

Is College Necessary?

Taking college classes is expensive. Even being a part-time student at a community college can cost thousands of dollars per semester. You should explore whether you qualify for financial aid or scholarships. A court can include job training and continuing education expenses when awarding spousal maintenance. Before looking into payment options, you should evaluate whether attending college will improve your chances of getting a new job. You can ask a career counselor whether there are alternative ways to improve your skills and make yourself a better candidate.

Finding the Right Fit

If it has been years or decades since you attended school, going back will be a new experience. Most adults need to fit their school schedule around their work and family schedules. Colleges offer flexibility through classes scheduled on evenings and weekends and available online. When deciding between available colleges, you should ask yourself:

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