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Peoria Family Law Blog

What's really in the best interests of the child in Illinois?

When parents divorce, they want their children to go through the process with the least angst and stress as possible. When each parent has the best interests of the child at heart, they may find it easier to be more civil with each other -- especially in front of their kids. But, what does best interests of the child really mean legally in Illinois?

Family court judges will look at several markers when it comes to determining what is in a child's best interests. They include the child's age, consistency of the child's routine, evidence of each person's ability to parent, how the child is likely to be impacted by a change in routine and the child's safety. Each parent can show the judge how they fit into their children's lives and how willing they are to work with each other for their children's sake.

Can I use child support to pay my utility bill?

The cost of raising a child in Illinois can be fairly high. Managing those costs after divorce can be particularly difficult, which is why child support is so important. However, what child support covers is not always clear, and confusion over how it is supposed to be used can lead to unnecessary conflict.

In general, child support should help cover a child's basic necessities. These necessities are food, clothing and shelter. A parent could use support to purchase groceries and snacks or to purchase new clothing for a child. Since costs associated with shelter encompass more than just the mortgage or rent, child support can also be used for utility bills and other related bills.

Looking at your child's best interests for child custody

As a dad, you just want what is best for your child -- especially now that you are going through a divorce. Your child custody agreement is the most important place to make sure that the best interests of your child are respected and upheld. But while you might feel certain that you know what those best interests are, you should still be sure to consider several key factors. Here is a brief overview of what Illinois courts look at when determining the best interest of the child.

First, it is important that you understand what best interests actually means. His or her best interests are based on whatever it takes to foster healthy growth and development following your divorce. Those interests will then help determine your parenting plan and schedule.

Divorce can be complex when high assets are at stake

Like all high-net worth spouses in Illinois and beyond, you worked hard to get where you're at today. Whether you're a business owner or climbed your way to the top of the ladder in a particular industry as an employee, you want to make sure your financial interests are protected in divorce. Especially if you're filing for divorce later in life, the unique nature of high-asset property division means you might encounter challenges when trying to ensure that your property is properly valued and fairly divided.

Details are important in high-asset property division. Both you and your spouse must fully disclose your finances, including any existing liabilities. A common problem in divorces where there is high-net worth property is that spouses who want to gain the upper hand in proceedings may attempt a hidden asset scheme, which is not only mean-spirited but illegal as well.

Knowing your property interests can secure your future finances

Successfully navigating a divorce is about much more than signing the final papers. A more appropriate goal than simply getting through the process is to come out the other side of divorce with a strong sense of financial wellness. But since divorce can be an emotionally significant experience for people in Illinois, focusing on one's financial security and personal property interests can feel difficult. Here is how one can easily make finances a priority during divorce.

Financial wellness involves knowing how much one has in assets. When it comes to divorce, this means identifying marital as well as separate property. Each party keeps their own personal property in divorce but must divide the marital assets. Identifying those marital assets requires more than just jotting down a quick list of obvious assets like the marital home or vehicles. Instead, it is better to collect important paperwork for things like tax returns, financial statements, insurance documents, bank accounts and more.

My spouse asked for a postnup -- are we headed for divorce?

Some Illinois couples who start out marriage with very little to their names often end up accumulating significant assets over time. However, someone in this situation might not have thought about whether a prenuptial agreement could be beneficial. So is it too late to protect one's self in the event of divorce? Not at all, and this is where a postnuptial agreement can help.

Just like a prenup, a postnup addresses certain divorce terms. The major difference between these two agreements is when they are created. As the name implies, postnuptial agreements come some time after the wedding, maybe even years down the road.

Marital property: Is your spouse trying to hide it?

When an Illinois married couple decides that their relationship is no longer sustainable, it typically sparks a series of decisions that must be made. If the couple has minor children and a spouse files for divorce, issues involving custody, visitation and child support must be resolved in order to achieve a settlement. In a high asset divorce, a spouse who wants to have the upper hand in property division proceedings may try to hide marital property to keep it away from the other spouse.

If a spouse suspects that this might be happening, he or she should remember that hiding assets in divorce is illegal. It is also important to learn more about the most common ways people attempt such schemes. In fact, some spouses literally start stashing cash in various hiding spots, such as under a mattress, in a drawer, between the pages of a book or in a strong box.

Women don't have to suffer financially after divorce

Living well into a retirement usually hinges on one's financial foundation built earlier in life. But even if a foundation seems sturdy enough, some life events -- such as divorce -- can cause serious damage. Divorce tends to hit women's finances much more than men's, so Illinois women who are in or near retirement should be ready to advocate for themselves.

Of those aged 65 or older, men typically fare better financially than women. Women in this age group are 80% more likely to live in poverty than men of the same age. This is because the average woman suffers a 30% loss in her accustomed standard of living after a divorce. Men usually experience a 10% increase in standard of living.

Debts may leave you vulnerable after divorce

Dividing marital property can elicit intense emotions. Both spouses might feel particularly attached to certain assets, like the family home or certain collections. But while a couple might battle over who gets these assets in the divorce, there are some that neither may want -- debt. It would most likely be difficult to find a married couple in Illinois without any marital debt, so this is a problem that many are likely to encounter.

Before deciding how to divide debt, a couple must first determine if a debt is considered marital. Debts acquired during the course of a marriage are almost always considered marital property, which must be divided. A student loan taken out in one person's name but during the marriage would be a marital debt, whereas one taken out before marriage would be personal.

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