Tag Archive for: Chicago divorce lawyer

How to Find the Best Divorce Lawyer

Divorce is incredibly difficult for all those involved, especially when finances and children become wrapped up in the process. That being said, by choosing the right lawyer, you can potentially expedite the process, minimize costs and reduce the stress on you and your family. 

Many believe that by choosing to partner with a lawyer during their divorce, they’re deferring responsibility and decision making. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. When choosing a divorce lawyer, you’re partnering with someone that can help you navigate the often murky divorce process while also being a trusted advocate. 

How do you find the right lawyer or firm for you? This comes down to due diligence and research. By looking at reputation, asking the right questions and having a basic understanding of the divorce process, you can feel confident in your decision.

Read on to learn what our team at Masters Law Group LLC feels are the most important aspects to understand when searching for the best divorce lawyer.

Consider the Quality of the Practice

The divorce rate in America is 44.6%, meaning that you probably know someone personally who has been divorced. While not always an easy conversation to have, start by speaking with someone who has already worked with a divorce lawyer. While their experience is anecdotal, and will not represent all lawyers, their advice can be incredibly helpful.

For example, if they partnered with someone who wasn’t empathetic towards their situation or didn’t return phone calls in a timely manner, this is probably someone you don’t want to work with. On the other hand, if the lawyer laid out a comprehensive legal strategy for the divorce proceedings and offered sound advice from beginning to end, this may be someone to consider.

Don’t forget to use the power of the internet. Most law firms will have posted testimonials on their website but look at Google reviews and also search for the firm on the internet to see if they’ve been mentioned in news articles or other publications.

At Masters Law Group LLC, we’ve been voted Chicago’s #1 Divorce Law Firm. If you find yourself in the difficult position of ending a marriage, consider speaking with us today.

Interview the Firm

This advice should be employed in nearly all walks of life. Whether you’re choosing a school for your child, a mechanic, or a home builder, it’s always imperative to ask probing questions so that the expert on the other end of the conversation can prove their ability.

Here are a few questions to ask during that conversation:

  1. How often will we speak during the divorce process?
  2. Will my case be attended by one lawyer, or multiple legal professionals?
  3. What’s the estimated cost of working with your practice?
  4. If my spouse chooses to be more aggressive with their case, what steps can we take to mitigate those actions?
  5. Based on my situation, how does the court tend to rule?

Questions like the above can help you quickly get a feel for whether the lawyer you’re speaking to truly understands the divorce process and whether you can be confident in their skillset.

Masters Law Group LLC specializes in the Family Law and Divorce field. Schedule a consultation with us to speak about your family law case.

Understand the Process

In general, divorces start with a divorce petition, served by one spouse upon the other. That petition is then filed in the state/county where one party has their residency. Once this process is in place – depending on the state – a waiting period begins, certain financial restrictions are put in place and traveling with shared children may be prohibited. 

Beyond this, divorces can go many ways. If the process is delayed, or if submitted information is deemed incorrect by one party, there may be a back and forth between said parties that can last for some time. 

In the final stages of divorce, after assets and other financial information has been disclosed, terms may be agreed to. If the terms put forth by one party is contested, there may be continued hearings or ultimately a trial. If the terms are mutually agreed upon, final paperwork is fired and the court enters judgment. Beyond this, a waiting period is put in place, after which spouses can remarry.

It’s important to understand the above at the most basic level, as your lawyer should have a firm grasp of this process and know all of the challenges that can arise during it. Keep this in mind once you’ve chosen who to work with, and observe that they’re representing you at the highest standard throughout these stages.

Make Your Decision

Once you’ve done your due diligence researching a firm, asked all of the important questions and researched the divorce process to understand what you can expect, it’s time to make your decision. 

There are going to be many reputable firms out there, but ultimately what can give a practice the edge is experience. If they’ve been representing the community for years, then they have relationships with other lawyers and judges, an edge that shouldn’t be ignored . On top of this, their experience in the community will also mean that they are intimately familiar with all the relevant laws. Consider this as you make your final decision.

Masters Law Group LLC

At Masters Law Group LLC we’ve been representing the Chicago community for many years. Our principal, Erin E. Masters was named “Super Lawyer” in 2020 by Illinois Super Lawyers and the other members of our team hold similar honors. 

Our practices knowledge is thorough and our mission to ensure that your family law matter is resolved in the best way possible is our core value.

If you’re currently dealing with the difficult process of divorce, schedule a consultation with us today.

Chicago’s #1 Divorce Law Firm

Whether you are going through a divorce, a child custody dispute, or other family law issue, you want to find the best family law attorney for your situation. Today we’ll tell you why we’re the #1 premier family law group in Chicago for those facing divorce.

As the vows are read aloud, no one anticipates a future divorce. Whether you’ve been married 50 days or 50 years, situations change, people change, and life simply doesn’t work out how you imagined it. And that’s ok.

Marriage and divorce are both common experiences for adults, although both can be challenging. About 90% of people in Western cultures marry by age 50. In the United States, about 50% of married couples divorce, the sixth-highest divorce rate in the world. Subsequent marriages have an even higher divorce rate: 60% of second marriages end in divorce, and 73% of all third marriages end in divorce.

So if you find yourself in the extremely tough position of ending your marriage, you need the right support on your side. There are many legal professionals to choose from, so it’s crucial to know what to do and who to ask for help.

A Little Bit About Masters

Masters Law Group LLC is a Chicago based law firm that has a unique depth of knowledge, experience and talent in the Family Law and Divorce field. Masters Law Group handles matters in Cook County and the adjacent counties including DuPage, Will and Lake. 

Our downtown firm and attorneys have won many awards for their work, including but not limited to, Best Law Firms by US News for years 2021 and 2022, Leading Lawyers recognizing Erin Masters, Super Lawyers recognizing Anthony G. Joseph, The Top 100 Lawyers, and the 10 Best Attorneys for client satisfaction.

As of last week, we have been formally recognized as 2023 Best Lawyers!

BEST LAWYERS 2023

Simply put, our commitment and dedication to clients is simply unmatched.

Let’s take a further look at our attorneys, and what we do best.

Our Attorneys

As you can see, our award-winning attorneys are highly experienced in their field of work. Especially when it comes to divorce in the state of Illinois.

Erin E. Masters is the principal of Masters Law Group, located in Chicago, Illinois. Masters Law Group concentrates in the area of domestic relations, which includes a heavy focus divorce and the relative legal subsidiaries that span from divorce (such as Divorce Mediation, Parenting Time, Allocation of Parental Responsibilities and Post-Divorce Disputes).

Erin E. Masters

Ms. Masters earned her Bachelors of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of California, San Diego, where she attended on a merit based scholarship. She would go on to receive her Juris Doctorate and Certificate in Child and Family Law from Loyola University of Chicago, School of Law, in May of 2004.

Erin was admitted to the Illinois Bar in November 2004 and to the General Bar for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in 2005 and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin in 2020. Ms. Masters was admitted to the United States Supreme Court in March 2009.

Throughout her career Ms. Masters has represented a variety of clients, both pre-decree and post-decree. In addition to representing clients, Ms. Masters is also a court-appointed Child Representative and has experience advocating for children in these high-conflict matters. Further, she has also been appointed by the Circuit Court of Cook County to mediate complex family law cases.

Anthony G. Joseph is a senior and founding attorney at the firm and received his B.A. degree in Global Economic Relations from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA.

He obtained both his J.D. degree and Certificate in Trial Advocacy from The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, Illinois.

Mr. Joseph was admitted to the Illinois Bar in November 2010, the Federal General Bar and Trial Bar for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in 2012 and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin in 2020.

Anthony G. Joseph

Furthermore, Anthony is an active trial lawyer whose practice focuses exclusively on Family Law, with a particular emphasis on International Child Abduction and cross-border custody issues pursuant to the Hague Convention of 1980 and the UCCJEA. Mr. Joseph also publishes in the area of civil litigation.

Mr. Joseph is “AV” Preeminent Rating from Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review, which is the highest peer review rating available and has been named a “Rising Star” by Illinois Super Lawyers in both 2019, 2020 and 2021. Mr. Joseph is also on the list of approved Guardian Ad Litem/Child Representatives for the Domestic Relations Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County.

Karly Armstrong is an associate attorney at Masters Law Group, she received her B.A. in Political Science & Interdisciplinary Social Sciences – International Studies from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 2016 and graduated magna cum laude. 

Throughout her time at the State University of New York at Buffalo, she was in the advanced honors program and wrote her undergraduate thesis on Middle Eastern women’s rights movements.

Karly Armstrong

Karly received her J.D. from Loyola University Chicago School of Law in May 2021. At Loyola, she was on the ABA Negotiations Team. She also was a student clinician at the Loyola Community Law Center where she served as a Guardian ad litem in contested minor guardianship proceedings. Karly took her Illinois bar exam in July 2021 and passed. She has been admitted to the Illinois bar since November 2021.

Karly is proactive in helping those who are seeking advice when it comes to divoce in the state of Illinois.

What Does a Divorce Attorney Do?

Divorce lawyers provide advice on marriage termination, including dividing assets, custody, and the options available to the client under the law. When looking for a divorce lawyer, word-of-mouth referrals from friends, family, and other professionals are a useful place to start.

Seeking out attorneys who specialize in areas such as custody or division of assets can also be beneficial.

Masters Law Group understands that divorce is a stressful situation and that our clients want to move on with their lives. As such, we move through settlement negotiations, mediation or litigation with our clients’ assurance and well being in mind.

Divorce cases involving substantial assets or complex estates require specialized knowledge.  Masters Law Group is skilled at identifying and valuing assets and wealth, including real estate, securities, business interests, retirement funds, pension plans, tax shelters (domestic and foreign), overseas accounts, stock options, trusts and other actual or potential sources of wealth.

Let’s Get to Work

We understand everyone’s individual needs are different, which is why our first step is getting to know you and understanding your unique situation. 

Whether you are facing a contested divorce, civil union, or series of different divorce-related issues, our firm’s attorneys are ready to skillfully advocate for your position and provide your voice when you need it most. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Divorce and Taxes: Filing After a Separation

For those in the process of ending their marriage, there is more to consider than a simple separation of assets. Whether legally separating or divorcing, you could be facing big changes in your individual tax situations— here, Masters Law Group shares information that could help. 

While most Americans are taking a sigh of relief after tax season, if you are separating from your partner, your taxes could need more attention. Much more.

Assets, Taxes and Divorce, OH MY

In the midst of a divorce, tax implications may not be the most pressing issue on your mind. However, filing taxes after you divorce and how you draw up your divorce agreement can make a big difference when it comes to getting a tax return.

The IRS lists four basic filing statuses available for individuals who are divorced or separating:

  • Married filing jointly. On a joint return, married people report their combined income and deduct their combined allowable expenses. For many couples, filing jointly results in a lower tax than filing separately.
  • Married filing separately. If spouses file separate tax returns, they each report only their own income, deductions, and credits on their individual return. Each spouse is responsible only for the tax due on their own return. People should consider whether filing separately or jointly is better for them.
  • Head of household. Some separated people may be eligible to file as head of household if all of these apply:
    • Their spouse didn’t live in their home for the last six months of the year.
    • They paid more than half the cost of keeping up their home for the year.
    • Their home was the main home of their dependent child for more than half the year.
  • Single. Once the final decree of divorce or separate maintenance is issued, a taxpayer will file as single starting for the year it was issued, unless they are eligible to file as head of household or they remarry by the end of the year.

When couples get divorced, they must divide all property and debts. Couples can hire an attorney (separately or jointly) to help prepare for a financial future after divorce. Here are some important things to think about so you can stay on top of your taxes.

Determine Your Filing Status

If you complete your divorce on or before December 31, you cannot file a joint tax return. If the new year starts before your divorce becomes official, the IRS will still recognize you as married and therefore allow you to file a joint return for the previous year. You are also eligible to file a joint return, but if you do not want to, you can choose the married filing separately.

If you are still legally married when filing your tax return, filing jointly may be your best option because you can claim more of a standard deduction by combining incomes with your spouse. The standard deduction is the amount of income that you can use to lower your tax bill. The standard deduction for tax year 2022 is $25,900 for married couples filing jointly, $12,950 for single taxpayers and married individuals filing separately and $19,400 for heads of households.

 In order to file taxes as head of household after a divorce, you must meet all three of the following requirements:

  • The last day of the year is considered the date on which you became unmarried (so you were either single, divorced or legally separated).
  • You paid more than half of the costs associated with keeping up your home for the year.
  • You lived with a qualifying dependent or child for more than half the year.

Updating Your W-4

If you and your spouse have jobs and earn wages, you’ll each need to fill out a W-4. This form tells your employer how much federal income tax to withhold from your paychecks. You’ll also need to split your allowances between both spouses on the W-4, so if you divorce, you may need to recalculate or adjust your withholding allocations. 

Joint filers need to split their W-4 withholding between both spouses, so if you divorce, you may need to recalculate or adjust your allowances.

Alimony payments from divorce or separation agreements that were finalized before Jan. 1, 2019, are still considered an above-the-line deduction when filing taxes. However, as of January 1, 2019, alimony arrangements can no longer be modified. Therefore, if you are the paying spouse in a divorce or separation agreement that was finalized after that date, you cannot deduct alimony payments when calculating your adjusted gross income. Unlike alimony payments, child support payments are not deductible. If you receive child support payments, you do not have to report them as income on your tax return.

Claiming Children as Dependents

If you have children, understanding who can claim them as dependents is important. This will also affect tax credits you can claim when you file your taxes. Parents who claim their children as dependents are known as custodial parents. Custodial parents have the children live with them for more days out of the tax year. Divorce agreements will usually have custodial parents underlined.

If you are not the custodial parents, you cannot claim child and dependent care credits. You also cannot file your taxes as the head of the household. Form 8332 is an IRS-approved document that allows custodial parents to release their claim to the exemption for a dependent child. If you sign Form 8332, you cannot claim the child as your dependent, and you cannot revoke it until the following tax year. In addition, the Trump tax plan eliminated exemptions for dependents in favor of a higher standard deduction.

Final Thoughts

Individuals who change their marital status through a legal separation or divorce must also change their tax filing status. For filing purposes, the IRS generally considers a couple married until they receive their final decree of divorce or separation.

If you’re going through a divorce, it’s necessary to take the proper steps to understand how it will impact your taxes. If you have specific questions about divorce it’s always best to work with an established and experienced family law attorney. 

Masters Law Group understands that divorce is a stressful situation and that our clients want to move on with their lives. As such, we move through settlement negotiations, mediation or litigation with our clients’ assurance and well being in mind.

Whether you are facing a contested divorce, uncontested divorce, or civil union divorce, our firm’s attorneys are ready to skillfully advocate for your position and provide your voice when you need it most. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Beaming With Pride: Illinois Civil Unions

With just two days left of Pride Month, Masters Law Group looks back at the history of LGBTQ rights, as well as the legalities of Civil Unions in our great state of Illinois. 

June is widely celebrated as Pride Month to the world. The month of June commemorates the 1969 Stonewall uprising in New York City when LGBT people stood up against police brutality and injustice and demanded fair treatment for all. LGBT people and their allies celebrate accomplishments achieved since Stonewall, but they also advocate for what needs to be done in order to secure full equal rights.

Anti-LGBT discrimination and violence are unfortunatley still rampant. Marriage equality still remains an issue at the forefront of Pride. What better way to close out Pride Month than with love and acceptance. Here’s what you need to know about Illinois Civil Unions.

What is a Civil Union?

Civil unions allow two adults, of either the same or opposite sex, to enter into a legally recognized relationship.

Civil unions first became legal in Illinois on June 1, 2011. A civil union is a legal relationship granted by the State of Illinois. A common misconception is that civil unions are only for same sex-couples. Both same-sex and opposite-sex couples who are in committed relationships can enter into a civil union in Illinois. Partners who enter into a civil union in Illinois are entitled to the same legal obligations, responsibilities, protections, and benefits that state law provides to married spouses. 

It is important to note that civil unions entered into in Illinois are not recognized under federal laws. Partners to a civil union in Illinois are entitled to almost none of the obligations, responsibilities, protections, and benefits that federal law provides to married spouses. 

Civil Union Guidelines

You can enter into a civil union in Illinois if you are a same-sex or opposite-sex couple in a committed relationship. You and your partner must both be at least 18 years old (or with the sworn consent of your parents or legal guardians if you are 16 or 17 years old) and neither of you can already be in a marriage, civil union, or substantially similar legal relationship.

If you are 16 or 17 years old, you may enter into a civil union in Illinois if your parents or legal guardians appear before the county clerk when you apply for a civil union license, provide valid identification, and give sworn consent to you entering into a civil union. 

Illinois also does not allow civil unions between close relatives. Illinois law prohibits you from entering into a civil union if you or your partner are currently married or in a civil union or substantially similar legal relationship. To enter into a civil union, your prior marriage, civil union, or substantially similar legal relationship must either be dissolved or your previous spouse or civil union partner must have died. 

What Happens if We Enter into a Civil Union and Our Relationship Later Ends? 

If you enter into a civil union in Illinois, and later divorce or become legally separated, you will need to apply for dissolution of the civil union before the court can end your legal relationship. If you and/or your partner move to another state after entering into a civil union in Illinois, the courts of that state may dissolve your civil union. If your civil union cannot be dissolved by the courts in the state of your residence, it can be dissolved by an Illinois state court.

 The dissolution of civil unions follows the same procedures and is subject to the same rights and obligations that are involved in dissolving marriages. Illinois law will dissolve a civil union if either you or your partner establish grounds for dissolving the union, or if you have lived apart for at least two years and can establish that the union must be dissolved due to irreconcilable differences.

It is important to dissolve your civil union when the relationship ends. If you do not, your legal relationship with your civil union partner will continue.

Do You Need a Family Law Attorney for Your Civil Union? 

At Masters Law Group, we are committed to providing exceptional, individualized services to clients in civil union disputes. Our firm has extensive experience in this area of family law. We handle family law matters in civil unions and same-sex marriages, providing legal representation for clients throughout the state of Illinois. 

Whether you want to form a civil union or are in need of a civil union dissolution, we will take the time to fully understand your situation and provide honest advice regarding your options. Contact us here today to schedule a consultation.