Illinois Adjusts Spousal Maintenance Law Ahead of New YearSince the U.S. Congress eliminated the alimony tax deduction, divorce professionals have waited to see how state governments will respond. People paying spousal maintenance will not be allowed to deduct their payments from their federal income taxes if the divorce agreement is approved after Dec. 31, 2018. Recipients will also not claim their payments as taxable income. The new law shifts the financial burden towards the paying spouse, and divorce professionals expect courts to react by awarding less in spousal maintenance. Illinois recently approved a new law that changes its directions to courts on how they should evaluate whether to award spousal maintenance and what the maintenance amount should be.

Deciding on Maintenance

The maintenance section of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act contains a list of relevant factors that a court must consider when determining whether awarding spousal maintenance is appropriate. The list instructed the court to consider “the tax implications of the property division upon the respective economic circumstances of the parties.” Lawmakers amended the section to simply state that the court should consider “the tax consequences to each party.” The amendment broadens the definition of what courts may consider in relation to taxes, which includes how not having the alimony tax deduction will affect the paying party.

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How to Enforce Child Support Payments in CourtChild support is a shared responsibility between co-parents who no longer live together. Illinois’ child support laws use the number of children and the income of the parents to determine an appropriate amount to go towards raising the children. When one parent is not paying his or her share of child support, it hurts both the children and the other parent. If you have a co-parent who is not paying the required amount of child support, you may need to take legal action to enforce the child support payments.

Considerations Before Going to Court

When your co-parent misses a child support payment for the first time, your initial response should be to contact him or her and ask about the payment. Going to court may be unnecessary if your co-parent has a legitimate excuse for missing the payment and can assure you that this is a one-time occurrence. In some cases, the threat of legal action may be enough to get your co-parent to cooperate. However, you may need a court to be involved if your co-parent:

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Divorce Filings Have Sudden Spike Each AugustOutside of March, August is the most common month for people to get divorced. A 2016 study compiled the number of divorce filings per month from 2001 to 2015. Divorce filings reached their highest point of the year in March, immediately dropped for the next few months and suddenly spiked again in August before declining for the rest of the year. The study does not explain why divorces suddenly rose up again in August because the data does not include the reasons for divorces. However, social scientists have speculated several possible causes.

  1. The End of the Summer Break: The summer is an important time for families to do enjoyable activities together while their children are on break from school. Parents who are considering divorce may delay their decision to avoid ruining this time for their children. The parents may also be optimistic that family bonding activities may repair their relationship. Unfortunately, spending more time with someone you do not get along with can sometimes make a relationship worse. By the end of the children’s summer break, the parents no longer feel obligated to stay together.
  2. Start of the School Year: Filing for divorce at the same time that the children are beginning a new school year seems like poor timing. The children will be upset and distracted at a time when they should be focused on school. However, it is easier for parents to create a consistent parenting plan when the children’s schedules are structured around their school time. Having the children in school also puts less pressure on the parents to find childcare while they negotiate their divorce.
  3. Avoiding the Holidays: People consider divorcing during the December holiday season to be socially unacceptable. By divorcing in August, the spouses put some time between the divorce filing and the holidays. The data on the monthly divorce filings supports this theory. After August, the number of monthly divorce filings drop sharply and reach the lowest point of the year in November and December.
  4. Tax Filing Status: If a divorce is not completed by Dec. 31, the spouses are considered married for the entire next tax year. Divorced spouses who were still married during a tax year can complete their tax return as married filing jointly or married filing separately. They do not have the option of filing as a single head of household, which would give them access to certain tax credits and deductions. It is possible to complete a divorce that was started in August before the end of the year, but starting in later months makes it increasingly unlikely.

Summer of Lost Love

If you have decided to divorce your spouse, you need an experienced lawyer to represent you. A Kane County divorce attorney at Goostree Law Group can help you throughout the divorce process. To schedule a free consultation, call 630-584-4800.

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Avoiding Mistakes When Determining Spousal MaintenanceThough spousal maintenance is not a requirement in a divorce agreement, one party will likely pay it if the other spouse was financially dependent during the marriage. Spouses can either reach their own spousal maintenance agreement or allow the divorce court to set the terms of the maintenance payments. If you are the spouse who is likely to pay maintenance, it may be more advantageous for you to negotiate your own terms. However, it is important to understand your options and their consequences when creating the agreement. A poor choice can put you at a long-term financial disadvantage:

  1. Short-Term Payments Can Be Costlier: A spousal maintenance obligation is often spread out into monthly payments made for several years. Alternatively, the obligated spouse can make a few high-level payments or one lump-sum payment. The one-time payment may seem attractive to you because it may be less money than the total you would pay with a long-term plan. There is also the satisfaction of severing your financial ties with your former spouse. However, large payments work only if you have the money or assets to spare. You also risk overpaying for maintenance if your former spouse remarries in the near future. If you have a long-term payment plan, the payments will end upon your spouse's remarriage.
  2. Your Former Spouse Does Not Need to Remarry to End the Maintenance Agreement: Entering a new marriage is a clear example of when a dependent former spouse no longer needs spousal maintenance payments because he or she now has a new financial provider. However, cohabitation without marriage can provide financial support to a dependent former spouse. Your spousal maintenance payments should not be supporting your former spouse’s new roommate or romantic interest. To prevent this from happening, you can include a section in your maintenance agreement that allows you to terminate or alter the payments if your former spouse begins living with another adult.
  3. Spending or Hiding Assets Does Not Prevent Maintenance: Some divorcees mistakenly believe that they can reduce or eliminate their spousal maintenance payments by spending their savings or hiding their individual assets. Your income will largely determine what you owe in maintenance. Excessive expenditures will deplete the overall assets you can use to pay the maintenance, not the payments themselves. The court can penalize you if it catches you attempting to deceive your spouse by hiding your assets or income.

Calculating Spousal Maintenance

There are several factors that can determine the amount and duration of spousal maintenance, including how long you were married and your former spouse’s efforts to become self-supporting. A Kane County divorce attorney at Goostree Law Group can help you negotiate a fair spousal maintenance agreement. Schedule a free consultation by calling 630-584-4800.

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Explaining the Rise and Fall of Divorce Rates in the U.S.People who claim that divorce rates are on the rise in the U.S. will commonly say that half of all marriages end in divorce. The most amazing thing about this statistic is how frequently it is cited, despite it not having been accurate in more than 30 years. The U.S. divorce rate is believed to have reached its peak in 1980 at more than 50 percent, but the rate has steadily declined since then. The modern divorce rate is usually calculated as between 40 and 50 percent, with senior citizens being the only demographic for whom the divorce rate has consistently risen. However, it is accurate to say that the divorce rate is much higher than it was before 1970. There are several explanations for the sudden rise in the divorce rate and its gradual fall.

On the Rise

During the 1970s, the divorce rate rose to 50 percent after having been in the 20-percent range during the 1960s. A combination of factors lead to the divorce boom:

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Goostree Law Group

Goostree Law Group

 555 S. Randall Road, Suite 200
St. Charles, IL 60174

 630-584-4800

 1770 Park Street, Suite 205
Naperville IL 60563

 630-364-4046

 400 S. County Farm Road, Suite 300
Wheaton, IL 60187

 630-407-1777

Our Illinois divorce attorneys represent clients in Kane County, DuPage County, Kendall County and DeKalb County, including Geneva, Batavia, St.Charles, Wayne, Wasco, Elburn, Virgil, Lily Lake, Aurora, North Aurora, Elgin, South Elgin, Bartlett, Crystal Lake, Gilberts, Millcreek, Maple Park, Kaneville, LaFox, Yorkville, Oswego, Plano, Sugar Grove, Big Rock, Bristol, Newark, DeKalb, Sycamore, Naperville, Wheaton, West Chicago, Winfield, Warrenville, Downers Grove, Lombard, Oak Brook, Streamwood, Hoffman Estates, Barrington, South Barrington, Lake Barrington, Schaumburg, Big Grove, Boulder Hill, Bristol, Joliet, Kendall, Lisbon, Minooka, Montgomery, Plainfield, Sandwich, Yorkville and many other cities.

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