Positives and Negatives of Changing Careers During DivorceCommon sense says that you should not embark on a life-changing event such as starting a new career at the same time as you are going through a divorce. Doing both will divide the time and energy you need to devote to each, as well as pile stress on yourself. However, one change can beget another, and getting a divorce may cause you to reconsider your current career and whether it is meeting your needs. Starting a career change during a divorce can be good or bad timing, depending on the reasons for the change.

Positives

There are typically three reasons that someone wants to change their career during their divorce:

  • They need a better-paying job in order to be financially independent of their spouse;
  • The work hours of their current job will make it difficult for them to have regular parenting time with their children; or
  • They are unsatisfied with their current career and want a job that matches their passions.

A divorce court may view the first two reasons as positive steps on your part. The court may expect you to attempt to become financially independent as a condition of awarding you spousal maintenance. Seeking a better-paying career shows you intend to become less reliant on your spouse. A career with flexible working hours also shows that you take your parental responsibilities seriously, which may help you receive a fair share of the parenting time.

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Which Circumstances Allow You to Modify Child Support Payments?Due to the overhaul of Illinois’ child support law a few years ago, some divorced or separated parents are working under a drastically different child support system than others:

  • For child support agreements created before July 1, 2017, the non-resident parent pays a percentage of his or her income, based on the number of children; and
  • For child support agreements created since July 1, 2017, the total child support obligation is determined by the parents’ combined incomes, and the non-resident parent pays a percentage of the obligation that is proportionate to his or her share of the combined incomes.

The new child support model would potentially reduce the payments of a parent who was using the previous child support model. However, the existence of the new law is not enough reason to allow a modification of a child support agreement. 

Recent Case

A parent needs to prove a significant change of circumstances to immediately modify a child support agreement, which is usually a change in income or expenses for either parent. In the recent case of In re Marriage of Salvatore, a divorced father thought he had enough of a change of circumstances to allow him to reduce his child support payments. The parents had completed their divorce in 2015, with the father paying $8,100 per month for child support. The mother was unemployed at the time of divorce but had since been employed as an office worker and nurse.

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Can Empty Nest Syndrome Lead to Divorce?Parents commonly experience empty nest syndrome after their children have moved out of the home. They can feel lonely and lacking a purpose or identity. Ideally, their marriage will fill the parenting void, but empty nest syndrome can put pressure on a weak marriage. If your marriage is falling apart without your children, you may need to consider divorce. Starting anew can help you discover the purpose and fulfillment you have been looking for.

Reasons for Divorce

Parenting can hold together a marriage that may have crumbled otherwise. Between your parental responsibilities and your career, you may give little thought to your relationship with your spouse as long as you feel fulfilled in these other areas. The bond you share as parents will never completely disappear, but that by itself does not make you compatible partners. With the children out of the house, your spouse may be the only person that you regularly interact with. When this happens, you may realize that you and your spouse:

  • Share little in the way of common interests;
  • Have different ideas about how active you want to be in your post-parenting lives;
  • Disagree on how active you should remain in your children’s lives; or
  • Feel generally uncomfortable or unhappy with each other.

Some spouses stay together despite these differences, remaining married but living separate lives. For others, divorce is the best way to free themselves to pursue the lives they want.

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How to Find and Identify Hidden Assets During Property DivisionEach side during a divorce is responsible for researching their various marital assets to ensure that there is an equitable division of property. However, your spouse may try to gain an advantage by hiding assets from you. Even if the hidden assets are not marital property, they are part of your spouse’s individual wealth after your divorce. A divorce court may award you additional marital properties or greater spousal maintenance if your spouse has significant individual assets. Finding hidden assets may take more effort than the normal discovery process in a divorce.

Where to Look

Suspecting that your spouse has hidden assets does not mean that you know what they are or where they have been hidden. Fortunately, there should be financial records of the purchase or movement of substantial assets. There are several sources that may lead you to hidden assets:

  1. Tax Returns: Your spouse’s federal and state income tax returns must report all of his or her sources of income, including interest from investments and withdrawals from trusts. Looking at the tax deductions may uncover hidden properties that your spouse owns;
  2. Loan Applications: When applying for a loan, your spouse must report all of his or her income, assets, debts, and expenses;
  3. Account History: You can ask for records of all activity from financial accounts that you own jointly with your spouse or that your spouse owns individually; and
  4. Hidden Accounts: You can subpoena a financial institution where you suspect that your spouse has an account, forcing the institution to turn over any records related to your spouse’s account.

When you receive these records, you are looking for activity involving money or assets for which you cannot identify the source.

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The Problems with Lifestyle Clauses in Prenuptial AgreementsBecause of Illinois’ no-fault divorce law, couples can no longer punish each other for acts such as infidelity when filing for divorce. Previously, spouses may have accused each other of immoral behavior in order to avoid paying spousal maintenance or keep a greater share of the marital properties. Now, irreconcilable differences are the only reason that couples can cite for their divorce. Some couples are instead using prenuptial and postnuptial agreements to try to penalize a spouse’s behavior. A lifestyle clause sets rules for a marriage that will result in a financial penalty if either spouse breaks them. However, you should understand the potential problems of lifestyle clauses before you include one in your agreement.

Enforceability

Lifestyle clauses are relatively new, which means that there is little legal precedent for them in courts. The individual opinions of the judge may determine whether a court enforces the clause. Some judges may reject any provision that penalizes a spouse for fault during a divorce. Other judges may allow the clause as long as:

  • The terms of the clause are clear;
  • The clause applies equally to both sides;
  • Both spouses agreed to the clause; and
  • The penalty is fair and does not violate divorce law.

It is important to include a severability clause if you create a lifestyle clause in your agreement. That way, the rest of your agreement remains valid even if the lifestyle clause is unenforceable.

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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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