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Peoria Family Law Blog

How fathers can improve their chances for child custody

Deciding on child custody can be an emotional time for parents going through a divorce in Illinois. While joint custody is often the best arrangement for everyone, sometimes it is harder for fathers to receive equal time as the mothers. Fathers who want to win joint, or even sole, custody should follow certain guidelines to improve their chances.

According to the Illinois General Assembly, joint custody is an option, but ultimately the decision comes down to what is in the best interest of the child. When parents cannot come to an agreement, the courts step in and decide both legal and physical custody. When it comes to making this decision, a judge will consider:

  • Age of the child
  • Physical, mental and emotional health of child and each parent
  • Current living situation
  • Relationship between child and each parent
  • Ability of each parent to provide housing, food, clothing, medical care and education
  • Child's wishes once the child turns 14 

Teamwork helps a divorcing couple create a parenting plan

They say great minds think alike, and divorcing couples can apply that maxim to the creation of a good parenting plan.

The court wants to know how you and your soon-to-be-ex intend to care for your children after the divorce. Here are four important points to include in drafting a workable parenting plan.

Different ways a financial agreement may work in a divorce

When it comes to marriages in Illinois, it may seem counterintuitive to enter with premade plans for an exit. However, the reality is that about half of marriages fail. It only makes sense then to plan for the 50/50 chance of breaking up in the future.

This requires a financial agreement, which may take two forms. The first is a prenuptial agreement and the second is a postnuptial agreement. As the terms imply, one occurs before the marriage and the other afterward. Both serve the same purpose.

Smart planning can reduce financial loss in divorce

There are many parts of a person's life that can be rocked by the decision to divorce his or her spouse in Illinois. Divorcing couples face challenges as they separate years of shared life from finances to children. Often, the process of beginning to live life independently can be unsettling and difficult. One area that often sees a significant impact in regards to divorce is a couple's financial stability and long-term financial wealth. 

One woman shared the disconcerting tale of how her divorce practically ruined years of effort to accumulate retirement savings. The woman had purchased a home prior to her marriage and hers was the sole name on the property. After some years and her parents own divorce, her father began to suffer health ailments. The woman and her husband decided to refinance their home to help support her father. The issue was that at the time, the woman was primarily a stay at home mom and agreed to add her husband to the deed so they could include his income in their effort to get financed for a loan.

Being a loyal and supportive parent despite divorce

Divorce can put in a wrench in a lot of areas of a couple's life, particularly in their ability to continue parenting their children without allowing the stress of their relationship to take over. For divorced fathers in Illinois, particularly those who are the non-custodial parent in their relationship, this challenge is exponentially more difficult. Often, despite their undying desire to continue loving and supporting their children, logistics and opinions make accomplishing this objective quite difficult. 

According to verywellfamily.com, the sooner a father is able to negotiate the terms of a parenting agreement with the mother of his children, the more effectively he will be able to establish boundaries and continue parenting as he wishes. A parenting agreement that takes into account the logistical needs of both parents, as well as what is best for their children, has the ability to mediate day-to-day parenting responsibilities and provide clarification as to who is responsible for what. 

Turning your in-laws into ex-laws

When you walked down the aisle, you likely expected to remain married to your spouse forever. You also may have gained a new family, comprising your spouse and his or her parents, siblings and other relatives. During your divorce, though, you must understand how to turn your in-laws into ex-laws effectively. 

Divorcing spouses often experience a variety of emotions. If you are close to your spouse’s family, however, you may worry about losing their friendship, support and affection. Here are some ways to deal with your in-laws during and after your divorce.

Understanding the factors that play into your alimony requirement

As your divorce moves through the court process in Illinois, one requirement you may be given is that you provide alimony for your former spouse. While you may have softly anticipated this, hearing that you are still responsible for sustaining your ex's lifestyle may be a bit unnerving. At Butler, Giraudo & Meister, P.C., we are committed to helping people manage their divorce with confidence and efficiency. 

The process whereby it is determined how much alimony you will pay and for how long, takes into consideration several factors. According to LiveAbout, some of these considerations include the following:

  • How old your ex is, as well as his or her mental state and ability to maintain stable employment. 
  • How long your marriage lasted before your divorce happened. 
  • If your ex is maintaining a majority of the custody of your children and will need to manage parenting and childcare in addition to his or her job. 
  • Whether or not your ex was the designated homemaker throughout your marriage and thus spent considerable time out of the workforce. 

Shared financial management may pay off during a divorce

For many Illinois residents, one of the most challenging aspects of divorce relates to finances. This may be especially true for individuals who did not pay attention to or manage household spending during the marriage. Allowing both spouses to share money management tasks and responsibilities may reduce stress and conflict during a divorce.

Financial planning is essential after a divorce, states an Entrepreneur article. Recently divorced individuals may need to take stock of their income and account for alimony or child support payments. Having detailed financial information may make it easier for an individual to decide whether to keep or sell the house. A person may even choose to pursue different career opportunities based on post-divorce finances. Gathering financial information and understanding it may be extremely difficult for a person who spent the marriage relying on his or her spouse to handle the finances. It may be helpful for both people in the marriage to make spending and budgeting decisions together, whether they get a joint bank account or commit to using budgeting software cooperatively.

The different types of alimony in Illinois

A common assumption that many of those entering into divorce proceedings in Peoria often have is that alimony will automatically be a part of their divorce settlement. Their assumptions likely come from hearing stories in popular media of renowned divorce cases involving disputes over spousal maintenance. Yet the truth is that alimony is not awarded in every divorce case. Indeed, according to information shared by CBS News, government agencies report only between 243,000 and 361,000 adults in American as having received alimony in 2016. An important point to remember about spousal support is that it is not meant to serve as a punishment levied against the more well-to-do spouse; rather, it is simply meant to help an economically disadvantaged spouse transition into post-divorce life. 

This implies an inherently temporary nature. In fact, only in rare cases might alimony be awarded indefinitely. State law actually recognizes several different types of alimony. According to the Illinois General Assembly, these are: 

  • Fixed-term alimony: As the name implies, this type of alimony is awarded only for a designated term, after which the payor is no longer bound to the obligation
  • Reviewable alimony: Similar to fixed-term alimony, this type of assistance is assigned for a designated period, after which the court will review to determine if it is still needed and either terminate, modify or extend the order
  • Indefinite alimony: This type of alimony is awarded without the court imposing a termination date for the obligation

Can a lump sum payment help women struggling to get alimony?

In traditional Illinois marriages, it is fairly common for women to remain at home while the man is the primary breadwinner. This is especially normalized in high-asset marriages with children, as one party often remains at home to raise the kids. When the marriage ends, these women find themselves at an economic disadvantage.

If you are one such woman, you may have been out of the job market for so long that your degrees and work experience may now be outdated. You may not even have work experience or a degree at all, depending on how young you got married and the path you followed. The new tax reform further complicates things by making alimony a tax burden to ex-husbands who pay.

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  • Thank you so much for your hard work and expertise. I feel as a father in the state of Illinois that what I am trying to achieve is nearly impossible. I am so glad I chose to have your office full of extremely intelligent women represent me.

  • We would like to say thank you for your expertise, education, and kindness when we met with you! Your confidence has helped to comfort us and give us hope that resolution of the issue is possible.

  • I just wanted to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your time, energy, and efforts you put into our case. Thank you for helping make our son's quality of life better. I cannot tell you how happy we are!

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