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Libertyville Divorce Blog

Divorce often takes a heavy financial toll on women

Going through a divorce often leaves working women in Illinois and around the country in precarious financial situations. When researchers from the London School of Economics looked into the effect that ending a marriage has on how much spouses earn, they discovered that working wives saw their incomes drop by about 20% following a divorce. Men, on the other hand, brought home approximately 30% more after their divorces were finalized.

Figures like this contribute to poverty rates among divorced women that are three times higher than the rates among men who have divorced. Women also have longer life expectancies than men, which means they must be even more frugal than their former husbands during their retirement years. This is why divorcing wives should approach property division and spousal support negotiations pragmatically and prepare for them thoroughly.

3 collateral consequences of a protracted divorce battle

In a now-famous scene from the 1979 movie, “Kramer v. Kramer,” an attorney puts Meryl Streep’s character on the witness stand and asks her if she was a failure during her marriage. The exchange is both entertaining and riveting, likely contributing to Streep’s Best Supporting Actress Oscar for the film. It raises an important question, though. Is divorce through a court battle worth it? 

If you are thinking about divorcing your spouse, you must realize that open-court combat is not typically necessary. On the contrary, an uncontested, mediated, collaborative, negotiated or another type of friendly divorce may be available. You should also understand that court battles can have collateral consequences. Here are three common ones: 

Learning to co-parent with a toxic individual

Divorced parents in Illinois who are attempting to co-parent with a difficult ex-spouse may be interested in learning steps that they can take to make the co-parenting experience better. Co-parenting with a toxic individual can be frustrating; they may be constantly pushing boundaries and making unfounded accusations.

Co-parenting can only be successful if the parents put the welfare and the best interests of their children first. However, a parent can only do so much if their ex-spouse is undermining them. A parent has to be reasonable and realize that there are things they can control and other factors that are outside of their control. They have to focus on the aspects of their own personal life that they are responsible for. They must learn to control their temper and temperament and maintain composure even when a toxic ex-spouse is pushing their buttons.

How to maintain the parent-child relationship from a distance

There are many ways Illinois parents can bond with their children after a divorce even if they live a long distance away. They should keep in mind that scheduled visits and phone calls are not the only way to stay in touch. They can call at unscheduled times, or they can send encouraging messages using postcards. Text, social media and email all provide additional ways for parents to stay in touch with children, and they can also ask their children what they prefer.

Parents can take steps to ensure that the visits remain high in quality. This means keeping the focus on the child and making sure there is plenty of alone time. Parents should not take this time to introduce the child to people they are dating unless it is an established relationship. Parents should also try to meet their children's friends and their friends' parents. Knowing these parents increases the likelihood that the friends will be allowed to accompany the child on outings.

Divorce mediation and convincing a spouse to take part

When an Illinois couple is experiencing marital problems and contemplating divorce, the issues that sparked the strife can be complicated and difficult to get beyond. It may seem simpler to go straight to court. For many couples, however, negotiation and divorce mediation can be a better option.

Often, the most difficult part is getting a reluctant spouse to agree to take part. It is important to be prepared to explain why mediation could help. It is not necessary to have a deep knowledge about the process, but a basic understanding as to why it could benefit is useful. Communication regarding mediation is also key. If the spouse is stressed or has other things on his or her mind, pressing them about divorce mediation could spark a negative response. However, there are alternative communication methods like email or a text message. Discussing it with the mediator before speaking to the spouse could provide ideas.

Key facts about Illinois' spousal maintenance

As divorcing parties separate, finances are often a high-priority item in the settlement. Certain instances may warrant a spousal maintenance payment arrangement.

It is important that both maintenance providers and recipients understand the parameters of this payment. There are a few key facts to understand about Illinois' spousal maintenance requirements.

Tips for protecting assets in a divorce

When Illinois couples get a divorce, they need to take steps to protect their investments. These might be IRAs, securities, annuities or other assets. After the divorce, they should ensure that their estate planning reflects this life change, including removing the ex-spouse from beneficiary designations unless they still want the former spouse to inherit those assets.

While the divorce is underway, there are several other steps they should take. A spouse who has not participated in the financial side of the marriage will need to understand what assets are owned as a couple and separately and should get access to those accounts. Depending on what those assets are, there are several considerations to keep in mind. For example, a 403(b) or 401(k) can only be divided in a divorce after a plan administrator approves a document called a qualified domestic relations order. The rules are different for an IRA, which will require a divorce decree and new IRAs for each person to roll the distribution into to avoid penalties and taxes.

A strategic way to save money on taxes

Lots of people would be happy to save money on taxes. However, not everyone is willing to go through a divorce in order to do so. The so-called "marriage penalty" has some Illinois couples, especially high-earning ones, talking about the potential benefits that would come from divorcing on paper.

Getting a divorce in order to save money is sometimes referred to as a strategic divorce. After the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act went into effect in 2018, couples who fell into the 37% tax bracket were required to pay higher taxes than individuals who made the same and filed their taxes as single individuals. While the IRS sees individuals being better off as single, there is a lot more at stake.

Signs a divorce may be inevitable

Most married people in Illinois understand that there are several factors that drive couples apart. It is usually not just one simple thing. While having issues in a relationship does not mean that divorce is inevitable, it doesn't get rid of everyone's problems. Here are a few factors that can signal an unhealthy relationship.

Having meals together allows a couple to spend quality time with one another. They are able to discuss a variety of things in a comfortable atmosphere. When marriage mates stop eating together, this can be a bad sign. While some may say that they don't eat together because they have different schedules, it can sometimes signal that the relationship is disjointed.

Handling the family home during property division

The family home may be one of the most important assets for couples in Illinois who decide to divorce. For many people, the marital home is the most valuable item that they own, far outstripping other investments. In addition, it can come with sentimental attachments, especially for couples with children. Many people decide to sell the home during the divorce. This way, they can move forward after paying off the mortgage and splitting the remaining proceeds as part of the property division process. However, others may want to make an effort to stay in the family home.

It can be expensive for one spouse to buy out the other as part of the property division process. The amount of equity each spouse has in the property should be determined. This process includes an assessment of the value of the home as well as the mortgage remaining on the property. If there is a mortgage, the spouse staying in the home will usually need to refinance into his or her name alone. They may also pursue a larger mortgage to buy out the spouse. However, the spouse must be able to get approval for a larger loan from the bank based on his or her credit and income alone.

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