Tag Archive for: divorce help

Divorce In The Forces: PTSD

As we observe Military Appreciation Month this May, it’s essential to acknowledge the challenges faced by military families, particularly when it comes to issues like mental health problems and navigating divorce.

While at its core, military divorce shares common legal aspects with civilian divorces, complexities arise with military pensions, child custody arrangements, and other family law matters, often causing tensions between the separating spouses. Moreover, when mental health challenges such as depression and PTSD, prevalent among military personnel, are factored in, navigating this emotionally fraught journey becomes even more delicate and intricate.

Mental Health in The Military

The lifestyle of military families and the multiple stressors that military partners face can lead to anxiety as well as major depressive disorder. It is important to be aware of such where there’s anxiety; you may also find major depressive disorder.

According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, 7 out of every 100 Veterans (or 7%) will have PTSD. In the general population, 6 out of every 100 adults (or 6%) will have PTSD in their lifetime. PTSD is also more common among female Veterans (13 out of 100, or 13%) versus male Veterans (6 out of 100, or 6%). We are learning more about transgender Veterans and those who do not identify as male or female (non-binary). PTSD can affect how couples get along with each other. It can also directly affect the mental health of partners.

A subsequent study by Combat Stress asked veterans’ partners about their experiences of living with someone with PTSD. The results showed that partners face challenges, including inequality in their relationship, loss of their own identity, living in a volatile environment, and emotional distress and isolation.

Understanding Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Divorce

PTSD is a mental health condition that can arise following exposure to or witnessing a traumatic event. The impact of PTSD can reverberate throughout every facet of a relationship, manifesting in communication breakdowns and even violent outbursts. Common symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts about an event. 

According to the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study (NVVRS), Veterans with PTSD exhibit a higher likelihood of experiencing marital difficulties. The study revealed that Veterans with PTSD:

  • Are twice as likely to undergo divorce.
  • Are three times more prone to multiple divorces.
  • Tend to have shorter-lasting relationships.

It’s crucial to understand that these symptoms stem not from choice or weakness but from profound psychological trauma. If you are a spouse navigating a partner’s PTSD, patience, compassion, and education are paramount. Let’s explore some tips for navigating PTSD and divorce.

If you need support, you can:

Navigating PTSD & Divorce

Navigating divorce with a military spouse requires a delicate balance of empathy, understanding, and practical support. Understanding what your spouse is going through can help you respond with compassion. While being supportive is important, setting boundaries to protect your well-being is also essential. Make it clear what behavior is acceptable and what is not, and be prepared to enforce those boundaries if necessary.

While these strategies can help manage the challenges of divorce with a spouse with PTSD and other mental health issues, there may come a point where professional help is necessary. Here are some signs that it may be time to seek professional help:

  • Escalating Conflict: If conflicts with your spouse are becoming more frequent or intense, and attempts to resolve them have been unsuccessful, it may be time to involve a professional mediator or divorce attorney.
  • Safety Concerns: If you or your children feel unsafe or threatened by your spouse’s behavior, it’s essential to take steps to protect yourselves, which may include seeking a protective order or filing for divorce.
  • Lack of Progress: If your spouse is unwilling or unable to seek treatment for their PTSD, or if their symptoms are not improving despite treatment, it may be time to involve a mediator or divorce attorney.

Recognizing the right time to seek assistance from a divorce attorney is essential. It’s crucial to work with a divorce attorney who has experience in handling cases involving military families and comprehends the intricacies of PTSD.

What You’ll Need To File A Divorce

If you’re a military family, there are some limitations on what you can do regarding filing for divorce. When couples find themselves struggling to resolve conflict, and divorce seems like more and more of a reality, many parents question whether or not they should stay or pursue separation. Often, the best way to approach possible psychological issues in a military divorce is the same way they should be approached in every divorce, albeit with some unique additions.

The Federal Service Members Civil Relief Act of 2003 requires a person seeking a divorce to state their spouse is not a member of the U.S. armed forces. This rule prevents spouses from divorcing military members who could not attend divorce proceedings.

If your spouse is a member of the military, you can pursue a divorce as long as they consent. However, they have to sign a defendant’s affidavit of consent. Even though there are a few added rules regarding the military divorce process, the remaining process is similar to civilian divorce. You will still need to agree on the following:

In many cases, you can file for a no-fault divorce (Illinois is a No-Fault Divorce State) if you and your spouse agree on the terms of your divorce. If not, however, an experienced divorce lawyer can help mediate your dispute and draft a settlement agreement. 

How a Divorce Attorney Can Help

We understand that military life can be difficult for families, especially when divorce is involved. At Masters Law Group, we consider all aspects of military life when working with our clients during their divorces. Here are some areas where we can help guide you:

  • Parenting Plans: If you have children, it’s essential to work closely with your attorney to determine the most suitable arrangements for allocating parental responsibilities and visitation. We aim to help create arrangements that prioritize your children’s well-being and best interests.
  • Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution: We encourage exploring options like mediation and collaborative divorce, which can facilitate mutually beneficial agreements outside the courtroom. Our family law attorneys will skillfully guide you through these processes, representing your interests and helping you secure a smoother negotiation experience.
  • Post-Divorce Modifications: Life can bring unexpected changes even after the divorce is finalized. Circumstances may arise that require modifications to parental responsibilities, visitation, or support arrangements. Our attorneys are here to assist you in addressing these changes promptly and effectively, helping protect your rights and the interests of your children.

Working with a divorce attorney can help you confidently navigate the complexities of divorce and help reduce stress. Your rights and the well-being of your family are our top priorities.

Final Thoughts

PTSD, depression, and divorce can be a match made in hell. If you are seeking divorce in the military, you don’t have to go it alone. At Masters Law Group, 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 in the forces this Military Appreciation Month, 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 set up your complimentary consultation.

What are the Differences Between Annulment vs. Divorce?

Annulment and divorce are two legal terms that refer to the dissolution of a marriage. While both annulment and divorce involve ending a marriage, there are some significant differences between the two.

So you’ve come to the conclusion it’s time to get a separation from your spouse. In Illinois, there are two different ways to end a marriage: annulment and divorce. While annulments and divorces achieve the same goal, there are some differences between them.

Annulment vs. Divorce

One of the main differences between annulment and divorce is the reason for the dissolution of the marriage. An annulment is a legal process that declares a marriage null and void. This means that the marriage is treated as if it never happened, and the parties are returned to the status of being single. In contrast, a divorce is the legal process of ending a valid marriage.

Another difference between annulment and divorce is the time frame in which they can be obtained. Annulment is typically only available within a certain time frame after the marriage has taken place. This time frame varies by state, but it is usually within a few months or a year of the marriage. In contrast, divorce can be obtained at any time after the marriage has taken place.

The state of Illinois recognizes four main grounds for annulling a marriage: illegality (void marriage), lack of consent, inability to consummate the marriage, or underage without parental consent. If a judge determines a marriage invalid, they may annul the marriage with a Judgment of Invalidity.

Obtaining an Annulment vs. Obtaining Divorce

There are also different grounds for obtaining an annulment and a divorce. Annulment is typically granted on the basis of fraud, duress, or lack of consent. For example, an annulment may be granted if one spouse tricked the other into getting married, or if one spouse was forced to marry against their will. In contrast, divorce can be granted for any reason, such as irreconcilable differences or infidelity.

Differences in Splitting Assets

Finally, there are different financial and property consequences of annulment and divorce. In an annulment, the parties are typically returned to the financial status they had before the marriage, and any property that was acquired during the marriage is divided according to state law. In a divorce, the parties may be required to divide their assets and debts in a way that is fair and equitable.

Conclusion

In summary, annulment and divorce are both legal processes for ending a marriage, but there are significant differences between the two. Annulment is a process that declares a marriage null and void, and is typically only available within a certain time frame after the marriage has taken place. In contrast, divorce is the legal process of ending a valid marriage, and can be obtained for any reason at any time after the marriage has taken place.

Why Get Legal Representation for Either?

There are several reasons why it is generally a good idea to hire a family lawyer for both annulment and divorce proceedings.

First, the legal process for both annulment and divorce can be complex and confusing, especially if you are not familiar with the legal system. A lawyer can help you navigate the process and ensure that your rights are protected.

Second, a lawyer can help you understand your options and the potential consequences of your decisions. They can explain the different grounds for annulment and divorce, and help you determine which option is best for your situation.

Third, a lawyer can represent you in court and negotiate on your behalf. If you are involved in a contested annulment or divorce, having a skilled and seasoned attorney can be especially important as they can advocate for your interests and ensure that you are treated fairly.

Fourth, a lawyer can help you protect your financial interests. Both annulment and divorce can have significant financial consequences, and a lawyer can help you understand your rights and responsibilities, and ensure that any settlement is fair and equitable.

Get in Touch Today

Overall, hiring a family law attorney can be a wise investment when it comes to annulment and divorce proceedings. A lawyer can provide valuable guidance and representation, and help you achieve the best possible outcome for your situation.

At Masters Law Group, we understand 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, civil union divorce, or seeking an annulment, our firm’s attorneys are ready to skillfully advocate for your position and provide your voice when you need it most.

Contact us here today to start the conversation. 

Chicago Divorce Attorneys: Working with Masters Law Group in 2023

If you are contemplating divorce or your spouse recently dropped the “D Bomb,” you may be on the fence debating whether you should hire a divorce attorney or if you should represent yourself. If you’re about to go through a divorce, here’s why you should invest in a divorce attorney.

If you are currently in a bad situation with your partner and you want to settle for divorce, you might consider getting a lawyer. When choosing a divorce attorney, there are a few factors you should consider. Experience, costs and reputation are just a few of the most important considerations.

Having a reputable attorney by your side will help ensure your interests are well-represented. Having a lawyer will also ensure that the settlement you receive is fair and your rights are protected. You will also want to know whether any loopholes in the law may result in an unfair settlement.

How to Choose the Right Divorce Attorney

You may be reluctant to hire an attorney for many reasons such as trust and associated costs, but without one, you may find yourself facing costly repercussions. Divorce is no simple feat, so having a good relationship with your divorce attorney can make the process so much easier. Maintaining good communication with your attorney will only help you in the long run.

If you live in the state of Illinois and are in need of legal representation for a family law matter, look no further. Here’s what you need to know about working with Masters Law Group in 2023.

Working With Reliable Lawyers

Reliability is key when it comes to working with a divorce lawyer. When looking at your options for lawyers, pay attention to how they communicate with you. It’s important to develop a positive rapport with your lawyer, as most divorces take several months to settle. 

Throughout the divorce process, you’ll have an array of questions, concerns, or disputes you’ll want to take care of. As such, you’ll want someone on your side who will alleviate your stress, address your concerns, and answer your questions to the best of their ability.

When we first meet with our clients, we ask them what they hope to achieve from their divorce and how they would like to feel after it is complete. We then carefully discuss their goals so that we can provide the best legal representation possible. We offer complimentary consultations so that you can get a feel for our firm before deciding whether or not we are right for you!

Google Reviews and Client Testimonials

Word of mouth advertising has always had a leg up in certain markets. For the law industry, hear-say isn’t always credible. But looking at client testimonials and reviews of previous clients that have worked for a law firm can be extremely beneficial.

Lawyers that provide high quality services will have more clients who are willing to share their experiences with other potential clients. The law industry is no different from any other when it comes to word of mouth advertising.

If you want to get a better idea about a certain law firm, then it is important that you take some time to look at client testimonials and reviews of previous clients that have worked with your lawyer. A great tool and resource is google reviews. When you type in a business name, the reviews automatically pop-up. Another way to look for testimonials is by checking out their website.

At Masters Law Group, we are fortunate to have a great relationship with many of our clients. Our reviews and testimonials truly bear witness to our commitment to our clients.

We believe that each client deserves a legal team that will be willing to go the extra mile for them. We will always provide you with honest advice and guidance on all matters related to your case.

Client Reviews:

“Erin Masters and Anthony Joseph are an amazing duo. They helped me get through my divorce. In the words of my newly ex husband “your lawyer looks like a shark.” You’re damn right they are. They will go as far as you need them to go with any battle you are going through and I love that about them. I would recommend them to anyone in need of incredible lawyers who are not only knowledgeable but keep every aspect of the process very real. Anthony and Erin thank you very much for handling my case. You are very much appreciated!”

-Bianca 

Divorce Client

 

“Masters Law Group was incredibly helpful with my divorce. Erin and Anthony were a pleasure, very responsive, efficient, and very knowledgeable. I always felt that my case was in good hands and it was a relief to trust them with the process. I highly recommend Masters Law Group to anyone needing help with a family law matter.”

-Luz

Divorce Client

A Little Bit About Masters Law Group

Recognized Best Law Firms 2023 by Best Lawyers® and U.S. News & World Report, Masters law group is located in Chicago, Illinois and handles family law matters in Cook county and other surrounding areas. They concentrate in areas such as divorce, allocation of parental responsibilities, and other family law matters. 

Masters Law Group is highly esteemed and well respected by peer review publications such as Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers, and Leading Lawyers. Our Lawyers Erin E. Masters and Anthony Joseph have been recognized by such prestigious publications numerous times. This not only speaks volume about their work–but also their character.

Having an attorney who is respected by their peers is a testament to both their work ethic and their character. When you’re facing a legal issue, having someone you can trust on your side makes all the difference.

Working with Masters Law Group in 2023

Here at Masters Law Group LLC, we’re committed to helping you achieve the best outcome in your case. With a long history of awarded recognitions in Family Law, we have a unique depth of knowledge, experience, and talent in the Family Law and Divorce field.

Our highly experienced divorce attorneys are dedicated to providing you with the best possible service. No matter what kind of case you may have—divorce, child custody or relocation—we will work tirelessly to help you get the results you deserve. We have over 10 years of experience handling family law cases and we know how important it is for our clients to feel comfortable with their lawyer. That’s why we offer free consultations so that you can meet with us before deciding whether or not to hire us.

Contact us to schedule a consultation today!

Social Media and Divorce – 5 Things You Should Know

We get it. Anger, resentment and what seems a waste of your time can lead to social media rants. But even private DMs can land you in hot water. 

When you’re going through a divorce, it can be tempting to use social media as an outlet to redefine who you are without your spouse in the picture. But while social media can be a valuable tool during this difficult time, it can also cause major problems if you’re not careful.

Recent studies show that social media is one of the leading causes of marriage breakdowns. It’s been shown that social media causes many marriages to break down because it causes trust issues between spouses and can be used against you during a divorce.

Here are five things you should know when using social media during a divorce.

Social Media Posts Can Be Used Against You

Divorce is a stressful and emotional time. Many people turn to social media to vent their frustrations, but this can have serious consequences. Posts on social media during a divorce can become evidence against you in your case.

There are two big rules to follow when it comes to social media. Don’t post about a new relationship on social media during a divorce. Posting about a new relationship can negatively affect your case because it could be deemed as adultery—a fault ground for divorce in many states. It’s always in best practice to wait until the divorce is final to begin new relationships. 

Secondly, don’t post your location. Many social media platforms track your location when you post. To avoid this, you can easily evoke location-tracking permissions from these sites. This will stop these sites from recording your location when you make a post.

Check Your Privacy Settings

You should make all of your social media accounts private during a divorce. This is to prevent unwanted attention from other people. Locking accounts prevents people who don’t follow your account from viewing your posts. Changing your passwords for all of your accounts is also a good idea. 

Have you ever shared a computer with your spouse? If so, you should change your password for all accounts, including email addresses that both of you use. It’s a good practice to use new passwords for every site you visit so that other people won’t be able to access them if they get their hands on them.

Be Mindful of Deleting Posts

It’s a common instinct to want to clean up your social media accounts when you’re going through a divorce. It’s common to not want painful reminders of happier days, or you don’t want your spouse to find any private messages or DMs between you and someone else.

But deleting posts from your Facebook or Twitter may not be as effective as you might think.

If your spouse requests the entire social media history from you during the discovery process, you must provide it. Deleting posts doesn’t necessarily delete them from Facebook or Twitter’s servers—they can still be retrieved by experts, who will charge fees for their time and efforts.

Deleting evidence may affect your reputation with your judge. Deleting or destroying evidence can be used against you in court.

Go Through Your Friends List

You and your spouse probably had mutual friends, and if you accepted friend requests from them, those friends may be reporting back to your spouse.

Spend some time going through your lists of friends and followers to unfriend or block accounts of people you believe might be sending information back to your spouse. Divorce litigation isn’t a time to worry about what your spouses’ friends will think of you—it’s about self-preservation and putting yourself first!

Just be sure not to direct them to interact with your spouse or harass them in any way—that will end poorly for everybody.

Think Before You Post

If you’re going through a divorce, it’s important to think twice before you post anything on social media. It’s especially important to be careful not to post anything that would look like bad-mouthing the other parent. Your spouse can then take that post and use it in court against you. 

Judges might not like it when parties call their decisions unfair – even if you think they are. If you choose to trash a judge in your case on social media, you may find yourself in contempt of court. If you can’t use social media to highlight the positives in your life, like being a good parent, maybe take a break from posting. Creating new posts won’t be subject to misinterpretation and can really help your case in the long run.

Final Thoughts

At Masters Law Group, our skilled attorneys understand that divorce is a stressful situation. Many of our clients are ready to move on with their lives, and as such, we move through mediation and litigation with our clients’ well being in mind. Are you facing a family law issue? Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Should I Wait Until After the Holidays to Get a Divorce?

One of the most common questions that we get around Christmas time from potential clients is whether they should wait until after Christmas to file for divorce. Here’s what you need to consider. 

The holidays are a time for family and friends, and the last thing on your mind should be whether or not you should get divorced.

But if you’re in this position, it’s important to know that you don’t have to keep your divorce plans under wraps forever. There are many situations where it could be good to hold off, and in some cases it’s better to rip the bandaid off. Here are several considerations to keep in mind when deciding whteher to wait until after the holidays to get a divorce.

Avoiding Extra Holiday Stress

The holidays can be a stressful time for everyone, but they can also be a time of joy and togetherness. If you’re considering divorce, it’s important to remember that divorces often take a long time to finalize, and it may be best to wait until after the holidays are over before starting proceedings.

If you’re in a marriage that is teetering on the brink of divorce, the holidays can be especially hard. It’s important to focus on what makes you happy. Whether it’s spending time with family or taking some alone time—and not allowing yourself to fall into the trap of focusing on how unhappy your marriage is making you. Try not to let stress get the best of you during this holiday season.

Be Aware of False Hope

Holidays may be the most wonderful time of the year, but they can also be a source of false hope. Thanksgiving and Christmas are often times when couples will try to rekindle their passion and romance, often “for the sake of the kids”. When couples have been in a long-term relationship, it’s not uncommon for them to experience periods of disconnection or lack of intimacy. But when the season rolls around, these high spirits can sometimes cloud the deeper issues.

However, despite the aura of togetherness over the season, always remember why you wanted to get a divorce in the first place. Are these reasons going to pop up again in the new year? Will everything be magically solved in your marriage? Weigh up the pros and cons carefully before making your decision. 

Supportive vs. Interfering Relatives

If you have decided that it is time to divorce, but are worried about how your family will react, you may want to consider filing for divorce during the holidays anyway.

Depending on your relatives and relationship with them, filing for divorce amidst the holidays can be a great way to get away from the stress of everyday life and spend time with those who mean the most to you. Many people find that they are able to spend more quality time with their families during this time of year, which is why it can be an ideal time to file for divorce and reap the family support you need during this time.

However, we all have that one relative (or multiple relatives) who wish to give their penny’s worth on the topic of your marriage. This negative interference can be detrimental to your mental health and personal strength when it comes to filing the papers. Depending on where you are spending the holidays, consider keeping it quiet. These relatives don’t need to know what’s happening with your marriage now. Wait until the papers are complete and you have the confidence to discuss it further down the line.

Toxic Family Environments

Regardless of your marriage situation, arguments are sometimes impossible to not have during the holidays. The stress gets to everyone, however, If you are in a toxic or abusive situation it’s important to know that you don’t have to stay in your marriage if you’re unhappy. While divorce proceedings can be difficult and stressful for everyone involved, it is better if it is started sooner rather than later. Divorce attorneys can help guide you through the process.

Remember, if you or your children are in danger, it’s important to get out of the situation as soon as possible. Even consider filing for an Order of Protection.

Protecting Children

Announcing divorce at any time can be difficult for children, but it’s even more painful when it’s during the holidays. The festive season is one of generosity and cheer, and children are eager to experience the wonderment of this special time. 

Setting irreconcilable differences aside, even for just an additional month, allows the children and both parents to spend one last holiday together as a family. The gift of family togetherness is one that children will cherish and remember long after the divorce is over.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of your relationship situation it’s important to consider all of the factors before you make the decision to get a divorce. Whether you anticipate divorcing before, during or after the holiday festivities, you can always rely on the attorneys at Masters Law Group to guide you through the process.

We’ll be by your side every step of the way as we work towards a resolution that is fair, equitable and compassionate. Contact us today to schedule your complimentary consultation.

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.

I Need a Divorce. Help!

If your marriage is in question, you may be the one who is deciding “Should I stay or should I go”? While the process can seem overwhelming, there are things you can do to get through this difficult adjustment. If you’ve decided divorce or separation is the only way forward, here’s what you should know.

If you have decided to get divorced, you may have concerns about the cost, time commitment, and stress associated with the process. Which is why Masters Law Group works tirelessly in order to make the divorce process easier on you, for you and your children.

If possible, an amicable relationship with your ex can lead to a more straightforward divorce, because it won’t (usually) involve going to trial. An amicable or somewhat amicable divorce will often result in a quick(er) divorce.

As an ordeal that can be draining mentally and financially, it’s important to be prepared. Whether you are in search of Divorce Mediation, a Contested Divorce, Uncontested Divorce or Legal Separation, here’s what you need to know.

Is a Quick Divorce Possible?

Divorce is a stressful experience, and it’s important to get through it as quickly as possible in order to mitigate stress on everyone involved. Especially the children. The divorce process does not have to take years or even months. If you’re able to come to an agreement with your spouse about custody, visitation, spousal support, and division of property, your divorce can proceed through divorce court rather quickly.

The easiest type of divorce, which takes the least amount of time, is called an uncontested divorce. In Illinois, this is also referred to as “dissolution of marriage”. This relatively fast divorce happens because all of the major issues have been agreed upon by you and your spouse. Both parties agree on all the key terms of the divorce, including: Dividing marital property, Child custody and Parenting Time schedule.

Do Uncontested Divorces Take Less Time Than Contested Divorces?

A contested divorce is one where the parties cannot agree on some or all issues. It may involve a trial, and it may involve lengthy settlement meetings. It may also involve digging into your spouse’s finances, which takes a lot of time and energy.

There are many reasons why divorce can be contested. Typically, one party feels that they have not been treated fairly in some way during the divorce process and wants to fight for what they feel is their right. If you are going through a contested divorce, it is important to know what your options are so that you can make an informed decision about how to proceed with your case.

An uncontested divorce, however, takes a lot less time because you agree with your spouse on various issues. Here are a few examples:

  • Custody
  • Visitation
  • Child support
  • Spousal support
  • Division of assets
  • Life and health insurance policies

In the long run, an uncontested divorce will save you time and money in legal fees, will reduce stress, and will get you through the court system much faster than a contested divorce.

Divorce Mediation

Anger. Resentment. Bitterness. These are some of the feelings that many people associate with family law issues. It is often true that litigation – the traditional mode of dispute resolution – breeds these kinds of feelings. Fortunately, there are other ways to deal with family disputes that lead to much happier, healthier results: Mediation.

Mediation is considered an alternative dispute resolution process where an impartial or neutral mediator helps guide you and your spouse in settlement efforts – hopefully helping you reach a final agreement.  Unlike judges, a mediator has no authority to make decisions for you or your spouse. Their job is to keep you and your spouse’s focus on your needs and interests instead of fault and rights.

When a couple begins divorce mediation, they either choose the mediator in advance or one may be appointed by the court, with the court deciding how to split the costs.  Both spouses provide documentation to support their viewpoint regarding disputed issues, while the mediator works with both sides to find a resolution. The goal of the mediator is to reach an agreement between the two parties, therefore it is critically important to work with your divorce mediator attorney to ensure that the proposed solution is truly fair and equitable to you.

Legal Separation

Your first thought may immediately go to divorce, and that is understandable due to it being the most common approach to seemingly irreconcilable differences. However, you have another option that is less permanent that is worth considering. There is a large difference between deciding to be physically separated from your spouse and legally separated from them.

A divorce means your marriage is 100% legally over, the court can assist in determining the allocation of parental responsibilitiesparenting time, and child support. The court can also determine spousal support and divide property. Couples that have decided they can’t reconcile may be ready for an immediate divorce. However, even if you believe you will ultimately file for a divorce, a legal separation is worth to consider.

legal separation is a less permanent option, meaning you’re living apart but still legally married. If you don’t think you can live with your spouse, you can file for legal separation. Obtaining a legal separation does not prevent you or your spouse from obtaining a divorce later. Legal separation is less emotionally taxing than divorce because the permanence of a divorce isn’t there which still allows for the legal relationship to exist between the married couple. The court can order a separation between you and your spouse, and it would include similar aspects to a divorce such as allocation of child support and custody arrangements.

Getting Started

Part of divorcing is figuring out who gets what. A good place to start is to make a list and keep proper documentation of personal items that belong only to you, such as jewelry, family heirlooms, or photos and papers that have special meaning to you. If necessary, give these items to a trusted family member or friend for safekeeping.

It’s essential to have your financial paperwork organized and in one place, such as a file or binder. Start by collecting and making copies of your legal documents, including:

  • Marriage documents: Agreements and marriage license
  • Tax returns: Federal and state tax returns for the past five years
  • Real estate: Deeds, appraisals, cost basis of home, mortgages, rental property records
  • Business documents: Receipts, tax returns, payroll information, and any registrations, patents, or trademarks
  • End-of-life plans: Will, power of attorney, advance healthcare directive

If you have trouble finding any documents (or your spouse is making it difficult), your attorney can help.

Do You Need an Attorney for Divorce?

Hiring an experienced legal advocate that is well-versed in family law will be the best option for you moving forward. They can help explain this process to you and is the greatest way to ensure the best possible outcome that is custom and unique to your family’s situation.

Illinois Legal Aid Online provides a  guided interview that will ask you a series of questions related to this topic and then the program will complete the forms for you. It is free to use.

To see the overall process of getting a divorce in Illinois when you have children, please  click here.

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.

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.

Illinois Divorce Q&A

Are you considering a divorce? Throughout this tough time in your life you might have a hard time figuring out where to start or have many questions that need answers. For anyone seeking a divorce it’s important to have a lawyer who has your best interests in mind. Here are a couple of the most important and frequently asked questions when it comes to considering a divorce.

Divorce law is complicated so, if you are considering getting a divorce from your spouse you may have questions about what it involves and how to proceed etc. In this article, our experienced Illinois-based Divorce and Family Law attorneys cover the top most common divorce questions and answers.  Let’s dive right in…

Q: Is Illinois a 50/50 State for Divorce?

A: Unlike other states that divide the marital estate exactly in half, Illinois instead considers a variety of factors to determine an asset division arrangement that is fair and reasonable on both ends. Unfortunately, Illinois is not a 50/50 state for divorce. This means that the court weighs a number of factors to determine how to fairly divide property rather than dividing property 50/50. These factors include each spouse’s contribution to acquiring the property, the value of the property, the duration of the marriage, and which party has more responsibility for any children of the marriage. 

Q: Do Both Parties Have to Agree To Get A Divorce?

A: Both parties do not have to agree to get a divorce. A divorce can be filed by either party by filing a divorce petition along with a summons with the clerk of court and having it personally served upon the other party. Although both parties do not have to agree to get a divorce, both parties do have to agree to waive the 6-month waiting period of living separate and apart prior to a divorce as discussed above.

Q: Can You Be Denied A Divorce In Illinois?

A: In Illinois, you cannot be denied a divorce. Some states have many grounds for divorce and may deny a divorce if you fail to prove the grounds that you allege in your divorce petition, such as adultery or habitual drunkenness. Prior to 2016, Illinois operated this way as well. However, since 2016, the only ground for divorce in Illinois is irreconcilable differences. 

This means that the only reason that your divorce would be denied would be because you failed to follow the court’s procedural requirements or because you did not meet certain prerequisites, such as the six-month waiting period. Even if your case was dismissed or delayed based on these grounds, with the help of an attorney, you would eventually be able to receive a divorce order.   

Q: How Can You Get a Divorce if Your Spouse Won’t Sign?

A: When one spouse challenges whether the couple should get a divorce or any other reason, you have a divorce dispute. This is referred to as a contested divorce and can take more than 18 months to be resolved. An uncontested divorce (referred to as a “dissolution of marriage” in the state of Illinois) means that both parties agree on all the key terms of the divorce, including:

  • Dividing marital property.
  • Child custody and parenting time schedule.
  • Dividing marital debts.
  • Child support and medical insurance coverage for any minor children.
  • Spousal support (also called “alimony”).
  • Custody of pets.

Uncontested divorce is a great way to speed up the divorce process and make it less expensive. If both parties do not agree to the issues involved in the divorce, or even to the idea of getting divorced, this will not prevent you from receiving your divorce order.  

Q: How Can I Get a Quick Divorce in Illinois?

A: Divorces usually tend to be drawn out, especially when the parties cannot agree on how to handle issues such as child support, allocation of parenting time and responsibility, spousal maintenance, and division of assets and debts.  

However, if the parties can agree on the issues mentioned above, this is called an uncontested divorce. In an uncontested divorce, the parties and their attorneys draft written agreements at the outset. These are known as Marital Settlement Agreements and Joint Parenting Agreements. Uncontested divorces can be resolved with one court appearance and can be finished as quickly as a month.  

Q: How Much Does a Divorce Cost in Illinois?


Those living in Illinois and thinking about divorce might be like many Americans in the current uncertain financial climate. In Illinois, there are no set costs for the divorce. There are, however, set costs for filing the paperwork with the court where you live.  If you are a couple who have been married a short period and have separated for at least 6 months, a divorce should be relatively easy – therefore more inexpensive – even if you hire an attorney. If you are married with children, have joint assets like retirement accounts, investments or own a home/business together, you may think it is easier to hire attorneys and let them work out the details.

Final Thoughts

While there are many questions and valid concerns that come with divorce, the divorce process itself does not have to be difficult, and you don’t have to go it alone. However, divorce is an investment with substantial risks.

Divorce cases involving considerable 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.

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.

If you are contemplating filing for divorce or learn that a spouse recently filed, Masters Law Group’s team of experienced attorneys can answer any questions you may have throughout this process.

For more information on the divorce process in Illinois, contact us here today.

 

Divorce Planning: Finding Freedom in 2022

Celebrating the holidays with family and friends is one of the most anticipated times of the year. But for parents considering divorce, the holidays are not always a happy time. Now is a good time to figure out how to manage your expectations of divorce in 2022.

They say, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” But is it, when considering a divorce? No matter how long you and your spouse have been together, a divorce can be draining—both emotionally and financially. It can be difficult if you’re unprepared or disorganized. With the new year around the corner, now may be the best time to prepare yourself for your next steps to finding freedom in 2022.

To make the transition as smooth as possible, the family law attorneys at Masters Law Group have put together divorce planning tips for 2022 to help you navigate through the process. Here’s what you should know.

Discuss the Divorce 

If you haven’t talked with your spouse about a divorce yet, decide when, where, and how to approach the subject. Try to pick a date that doesn’t coincide with a major event, which is why many individuals put off the process until the new year. Then, choose a time that will give both of you a chance to talk, think, reflect, and rest before work or other obligations arise. If possible, plan to have the conversation in a neutral place—out of the home and away from domestic triggers and distractions. Keep it simple, try to remain calm, and avoid saying more than you need to. 

Any divorce can get messy and complicated. It’s important to have a support system in place when you’re going through a hard time. A group of trusted friends and family members who will be there to listen and lend a hand will be especially important throughout this tough time. It’s also a good idea to meet with a therapist, especially if you’re coping with any trauma, such as domestic or substance abuse. 

Navigate Separation Details

Some couples live together until the divorce is final, but usually, one spouse or the other moves out before that time. Decide where you, your partner, and your children will live. Keep in mind that maintaining two separate homes will be expensive. Both you and your soon-to-be-ex should aim to spend no more than 25% of your respective take-home pay on rent or mortgage costs. Be sure to create a realistic budget that reflects the new living arrangements and ensures both households are safe. 

Compile Your Legal Documents

Part of divorcing is figuring out who gets what. A good place to start is to make a list and keep proper documentation of personal items that belong only to you, such as jewelry, family heirlooms, or photos and papers that have special meaning to you. If necessary, give these items to a trusted family member or friend for safekeeping. 

It’s essential to have your financial paperwork organized and in one place, such as a file or binder. Start by collecting and making copies of your legal documents, including:

  • Marriage documents: Agreements and marriage license
  • Tax returns: Federal and state tax returns for the past five years
  • Real estate: Deeds, appraisals, cost basis of home, mortgages, rental property records
  • Business documents: Receipts, tax returns, payroll information, and any registrations, patents, or trademarks
  • End-of-life plans: Will, power of attorney, advance healthcare directive

If you have trouble finding any documents (or your spouse is making it difficult), your attorney can help. 

Hire a Divorce Attorney

How well you are able to navigate through your divorce may rest in large part on your ability to produce documents and evidence that can support your claims for alimony, child support, a division of assets and other important issues. Even if your divorce is amicable, it’s best to hire an experienced attorney who will help you understand your rights and responsibilities—and ensure you follow the appropriate steps. That way, you can make educated decisions about you and your loved ones’ future. 

Making sure you are treated fairly is vital to give you the best chance of moving forward in the best possible way after your divorce is finalized. To find a reputable lawyer, seek out recommendations from family and friends or research several family law attorneys in your area. Either way, be sure to interview a few candidates to find the one with whom you will be most comfortable.

Final Thoughts

January is often dubbed “divorce month” because many people say, “Let’s make this the last good holiday for the kids and our families” or “Let’s wait until after the New Year when the kids go back to school.” No matter what the reason though, divorce is never easy. There is no “good” time for a divorce – period. Coming to terms with your divorce and divorce planning does not have to be hard.

At Masters Law Group, our award-winning attorneys are here to guide you through your divorce every step of the way and help you untangle the process. When you need the assistance of an experienced divorce attorney in the greater Chicagoland Area, call Masters Law Group. We are dedicated to providing our clients with exceptional service and support throughout the divorce process. 

Contact our office today to schedule your complimentary consultation.