Fair Spousal and Child Support Requires Accurate Financial Accounting
When parents divorce, the dissolution of the marriage must be formalized in a court of law, and decisions must be made regarding the allocation of parental responsibility, child support, and, when appropriate, spousal support. When, in a contested divorce, spouses cannot agree on child and spousal support, a full and fair financial accounting of income and assets is absolutely essential. In obtaining such an accounting, Illinois law provides spouses and their attorneys with processes which allow them to discover all income and assets relevant in establishing child and spousal support orders.
“Discovery” is the Legal Process Used to Determine Assets and Income
It is not uncommon, when a marriage is in disrepair and it becomes apparent that divorce is on the horizon, for one spouse to attempt to hide assets and other sources of income with the intention of lowering their anticipated child and spousal support obligations. Such efforts, however, not only stand in contradiction to the principle of equitable division of marital property mandated by Illinois law, but a spouse’s attempts to avoid paying their fair share of financial support can lead to a variety of legal consequences, including being held in contempt of court.
When one spouse attempts …
What is the Difference Between Contested and Uncontested Divorce?
When a marriage breaks down, and a couple decides to get divorced, they are likely to experience some emotional trauma, and their distress will only be compounded by uncertainty over the cost and procedures of legally dissolving their marital union. Fortunately, some anxiety can be avoided by informing oneself about divorce laws in Illinois. One thing divorcing spouses should be aware of is the difference between contested and uncontested divorce.
Understanding Contested Divorce in Illinois
In Illinois, the only grounds for divorce (that is, the legal requirement for ending a marriage) recognized by state law are “irreconcilable differences.” Rather than demonstrating a reason why the marriage should be dissolved, a person only needs to state in their divorce petition that the relationship has irretrievably broken down. If the couple does not agree that this is the case, irreconcilable differences will be presumed if they have lived “separate and apart” for at least six months.
Rather than describing a disagreement about the reasons for a divorce itself, a contested divorce occurs in Illinois when a couple disagrees about the legal issues that they must resolve as they go about dissolving their partnership. If a divorce is truly uncontested, and the …
Resolving Issues During a Contested Divorce in Illinois
During divorce, spouses must address and settle a wide variety of legal issues related to how they will divide the various aspects of their shared lives into two separate households. The agreement or lack thereof with regard to these important issues speaks to whether the divorce is “contested” or “uncontested.” When a divorce is contested, it is important for spouses to understand the steps they must take as they work to reach a resolution.
Addressing the Issues Which Must Be Resolved During Divorce
Whether a divorce is contested or uncontested in Illinois, the dissolution of the marriage is a formal process that begins with the filing of a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and ends with an action by a court of law. A divorce cannot be finalized until all outstanding legal issues are resolved. With regard to a contested divorce in Illinois, the subject matter in contest (in dispute) includes some or all of the following:
- Allocation of Parental Responsibility (formerly known as Child Custody)
- Child Support
- Spousal Support
- Property Division
With regard to parental responsibility, allegations of capacity or fitness-related deficiencies may be leveled by one party, accusing the other of failing to meet their parental responsibilities …
Obtaining a Child Support Order Modification in Illinois
While child support payments become stable and predictable when parents’ employment circumstances remain constant over time, instability and stress can ensue when there is an unexpected decrease in income. This is true for both the parent paying child support and, when payments fall short or cease altogether, for the parent and child receiving support. When people’s circumstances change, Illinois law allows parents to request a modification of a child support order to increase or decrease the amount of child support payments.
Either Parent Can Request Child Support Modification
Life happens. On the positive side, there are promotions and pay increases. On the negative side, there are layoffs, demotions, pay decreases, and job termination. Whether positive or negative, a meaningful change in the income source of child support payments bears on the support itself. When a paying parent’s income increases or decreases significantly, either parent may petition the court to modify child support payments accordingly.
Importantly, child support payments cannot be modified informally, out of court. Only a judge is capable of entering a binding modification, and these modifications must be based on the supporting parent’s ability to make their required payments. This bright-line reality may be maddening for a child …
Uncovering Hidden Assets During Divorce
Illinois law requires the equitable distribution of all marital property in the event of divorce. Equitable distribution is, under state law, the fair and just division of marital property. Importantly, a fair and just division is not necessarily an equal division. Besides employment-based income, earnings from investments must also be analyzed, as well as benefits from pensions and other sources. Liabilities (e.g. debt) are also subject to equitable distribution.
In all matters, both parties are obligated to be fully transparent regarding income, assets, liabilities, and other financial matters during a divorce. If you have reason to believe that your spouse is lacking in transparency with regard to their complete financial picture during your divorce, an experienced divorce attorney will work to compel the discovery of income and hidden assets.
Means By Which a Spouse May Attempt to Hide Assets
It is upsetting to learn, but there are several ways a spouse may be attempting to hide income or other financial assets. Once it is clear that the marriage will end in divorce, a spouse may attempt to defer income, including bonuses and promotions, so that it is received after the process of equitable distribution. Estate planning resources, such as …
Creating an Illinois Parenting Plan That Fits Busy Holiday Schedules
If you have children and are recently divorced or are in the middle of the divorce process, issues related to parental responsibility and parenting time may be a significant source of stress right now. The reason: the holidays. As parents coordinate time family and friends, plan holiday activities, and determine schedules while kids are home from school during their winter break, a fair and reasonable allocation of parental responsibilities is imperative.
Illinois Law Requires a Parenting Plan
No matter whether you have an amicable or contentious relationship with your ex-spouse or ex-partner, when it comes to the allocation of parental responsibilities, you are bound by Illinois law to obtain a court-ordered parenting plan. With a well-crafted and drafted parenting plan, each parent and the state of Illinois will have total clarity as to the legal rights and obligations of both parents as concerns their children.
Decision Making and Parenting Time Are the Cornerstones of a Parenting Plan
The legal rights and obligations allocated to each parent in an Illinois parenting plan cover two major areas: 1) decision-making responsibility, and 2) parenting time (sometimes termed “visitation”). In other words, a parenting plan concerns all of the important things that go together …