Tag Archive for: divorce law

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.

Do Parental Responsibilities Fall Under The Hague Convention?

Parental responsibility cases can be emotionally challenging and legally complex, especially when situations arise that involve parental child abduction. When family disputes span across national or international borders, the Hague Convention can prove a valuable resource for the parent left behind.

While the main goal of the Hague Convention is to secure the prompt return of children wrongfully removed to or retained in any country (which is not the child’s country of habitual residence), it does not affect or impact the decision-making process regarding custody issues (allocation of parental responsibilities), nor does it focus on the underlying merits of a custody dispute. Rather, it determines under what circumstances a child should be returned to a country for custody proceedings under that country’s laws.

Understanding how this convention applies to parental responsibility cases is crucial for parents recently filing for divorce or separation who have international connections. Unfortunately, some parents never accept the divorce and purposely cause problems, sometimes by taking their child far away from the other parent. 

PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY AND PARENTING PLANS

In Illinois, the landscape of parental arrangements has evolved. “Allocation of Parental Responsibilities” includes the division of decision-making responsibility, previously known as “legal custody,” and parenting time, previously known as “visitation,” amongst the parties.  Parenting plans outline the schedule dictating a child’s interactions with each parent after a divorce or separation. 

Without a parenting plan, no official documentation exists specifying where a child should be at any given time. This legal void can lead to situations where parents can, without repercussion, abandon their children or take them away without the explicit consent of the other parent. In the state of Illinois, according to 720 ILCS Sec. 10-5(b)(6), a parent can abduct their child if, absent a custodial order/parenting plan, “knowingly conceals” a child “for 15 days and fails to make reasonable attempts within the 15 days to notify the other parent.” Let’s take a look at how Illinois grants custody.

HOW ILLINOIS GRANTS CUSTODY

Approximately 40% of states in the United States strive to provide equal custody time for both parents. Courts consider the child’s best interests when determining parenting arrangements. They aim to confirm that the child maintains a strong and healthy relationship with both parents.

They consider the child’s age, needs, and each parent’s ability to provide a safe environment. The court may select a mother over a father if the father negatively impacts the child or vice versa. Having clear guidelines and agreements can help establish stability and promote effective co-parenting. If you are a parent facing international parental child abduction, or feel your family is at risk of such an event, let’s look at how the Hague Convention could help.

“RIGHTS OF CUSTODY” UNDER THE HAGUE CONVENTION

As previously mentioned, the Convention does not affect or impact the decision-making process regarding custody issues (allocation of parental responsibilities), nor does it focus on the underlying merits of a custody dispute. However, it aims to secure the prompt return of children who have been wrongfully removed to or retained in any contracting state and distinguishes between the remedies available to protect “rights of custody” and “rights of access.”

  • “Rights of custody” includes rights relating to the care of the child and the right to determine the child’s place of residence.
  • “Rights of access” includes the right to take the child for a period of time – Article 5(a).

The Convention protects rights of access without an order of return, but in some circumstances, an “access parent” may be considered to hold rights of custody and thus be entitled to an order for the child’s return under the Convention.

PROTECTING PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITIES ACROSS BORDERS

The Hague Convention sets out clear procedures for determining where the child normally lives and dealing with wrongful removal or retention cases. Each country appoints central authorities to resolve disputes, and courts in both the child’s home country and the country where they’re in decide on the best course of action. 

If the Convention states if the removal or retention was wrongful, then the court must order the child returned to his or her habitual residence for a custody determination, unless the responding parent (the parent who removed or retained the child ) can establish one of the following:

  1. More than one year has passed since the wrongful removal or retention and the child is settled in his or her new environment
  2. The petitioning parent was not actually exercising custody rights at the time of the removal or retention
  3. The petitioning parent had consented to or subsequently acquiesced in the removal or retention
  4. The child objects to being returned and is of an age and maturity level at which it is appropriate to take account of his or her views
  5. There is a “grave risk” that the child’s return “would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation,” or
  6. The return of the child would be inconsistent with “fundamental principles … relating to the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

Overall, the Hague Convention helps maintain stability and consistency in parenting arrangements while protecting the rights of children and parents involved in cross-border disputes.

CHALLENGES TO CONSIDER

Parents often face hurdles when dealing with international parenting disputes. One of the most significant challenges is simply navigating another country’s legal system. This can involve language barriers, unfamiliar legal procedures, and cultural differences, making it difficult for parents to advocate for their rights effectively. 

Additionally, parents may struggle to locate and communicate with their children, especially if the other parent is hiding them. In some cases, parents may also face obstacles related to travel, such as visa restrictions or prohibitive travel costs. International parental responsibility cases can be highly stressful and emotionally taxing for parents. That’s why having the right support and guidance is essential throughout the process.

GETTING THE HELP YOU NEED

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction can be a valuable resource for resolving abduction cases involving international borders, prioritizing their well-being. 

But to navigate these complex cases successfully, seeking legal counsel with knowledge and experience in Hague proceedings is extremely valuable. Erin Masters and Anthony Joseph have extensive experience in cases involving international parental disputes in courts located in the State of Illinois and the United States federal court system. 

Our profound understanding and proficiency with The Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (“The Hague Convention”), enacted into law through the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (“ICARA”), empowers us to help advocate thoroughly and effectively. 

Highlighted Hague Decisions:

Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

DuPage Divorce Attorney: The Valentine’s Day Effect

Flowers, romantic cards, and proclamations of undying love for one another; Valentine’s Day is known as the day of love for a reason. Unfortunately, for many people, Valentine’s Day is a day for ending relationships and obtaining divorces, too.

In the weeks leading up to and after Valentine’s Day, requests for information about divorce experienced a surge of 40 percent (law.com). For individuals in DuPage County, Illinois, and across Chicagoland, Valentine’s Day may shed light on the complexities within their marriages.

Valentine’s Day is a day that celebrates love and affection, but for some couples, it’s not such a happy holiday as divorce rates surge. During challenging times, a DuPage divorce attorney can be a crucial ally, providing guidance and support through the emotional and legal aspects of ending a marriage. Here’s what you need to know.

UNDERSTANDING THE VALENTINE’S DAY EFFECT

While Valentine’s Day is meant to celebrate love and connection, for certain couples, it can evolve into a stark reminder of the underlying issues in their relationships. Yet, when we delve deeper into the broader context of Valentine’s Day, it becomes clear why this time of year can be particularly revealing.

Unmet expectations, unresolved conflicts, and a pervasive sense of dissatisfaction may all surface leading up to and on this day. These negative emotions may prompt individuals to reassess the foundations of their marriages. This phenomenon, commonly referred to as the “Valentine’s Day Effect,” has the potential to lead some couples to the difficult decision of pursuing a divorce. 

Why Couples Seek Divorce

On top of dealing with the “Valentine’s Day Effect,” various other factors can lead to divorce. This study found that the following factors can increase a couple’s risk of divorce:

  • A lack of communication
  • Infidelity
  • Conflict and arguing
  • Marrying too young
  • Financial issues
  • Substance abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Health issues
  • Lack of family support
  • Religious differences
  • Lack of premarital education

It’s important to note that Illinois operates as a no-fault divorce state, requiring only irreconcilable differences as grounds, eliminating the need to prove fault for divorce.

MEDIATION AND ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION

A seasoned DuPage divorce attorney possesses the legal experience necessary to navigate the complex terrain of divorce proceedings. Emotions can run high during a divorce, and decisions made in the heat of the moment may have long-lasting consequences. A divorce attorney acts as a level-headed and objective advisor, helping clients make informed decisions based on their best interests rather than emotions.

It’s important to note that not all divorces need to be contentious courtroom battles. A skilled divorce attorney can help you explore alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation, to facilitate open communication and negotiation between the parties involved. These lower-conflict avenues often result in a more amicable resolution.

Divorce is a complex and emotionally charged journey that often requires the guidance of seasoned family law professionals. At Masters Law Group, our experienced family law attorneys provide valuable assistance, helping to ensure that your rights and the best interests of you and your children remain at the forefront of every decision.

ILLINOIS ASSET DIVISION

If you file for divorce, you may be wondering what will happen to the financial house you built together. Division of assets is a significant aspect of divorce proceedings. When couples get a divorce in Illinois, the courts don’t split everything down the middle like in certain other states. Instead, Illinois follows a more intricate approach called “equitable distribution.” Here’s how it works:

  1. Contribution to the Marriage: The court looks at what each spouse brought to the marriage regarding money and non-money contributions like caring for the home or children.
  2. Duration of the Marriage: How long the marriage lasted matters, as it can affect how assets are divided.
  3. Economic Circumstances: Each spouse’s financial situation, including income and needs, is considered.
  4. Non-Marital Property: Things owned before marriage or received as gifts or inheritance during marriage may not be split.
  5. Custodial Arrangements: If there are kids, the court looks at custody and how it impacts finances.
  6. Spousal Support (Alimony): Whether one spouse needs support payments is factored in.
  7. Tax Consequences: Taxes resulting from asset division are also considered to make things fair.
  8. Wasteful Dissipation: If one spouse recklessly spends or wastes money, it can affect the division.
  9. Agreements: Any agreements made before or during the marriage, like prenups, are considered if they meet legal standards.

Remember, “equitable distribution” doesn’t always mean a perfect 50/50 split. It’s about creating a fair and just arrangement based on each family’s unique situation. This process can be tricky, so it’s a good idea to work with a skilled family law attorney to help ensure your rights are protected during asset division in Illinois.

HOW A DUPAGE DIVORCE ATTORNEY CAN HELP

If you’re looking for a top lawyer in Illinois, consider working with the DuPage divorce attorneys at Masters Law Group. Our firm has earned a top spot on the Best Law Firms 2023 list by Best Lawyers® and U.S. News & World Report, and we are highly esteemed and respected by leading peer review publications such as Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers, and Leading Lawyers. 

Furthermore, our senior attorneys, Erin E. Masters, and Anthony G. Joseph, have been recognized by these prestigious publications year after year, showcasing their strong work ethic, character, and skill in family law, so you can rest assured you have someone you can trust throughout your divorce proceedings.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Valentine’s Day isn’t all about love and romance. For some, it could be a wake-up call or the final straw when it comes to divorce. 

If you are experiencing “The Valentine’s Day Effect” or simply want to learn more about initiating the divorce process, we can help. For questions regarding divorce and other family law matters in DuPage County, contact Chicagoland’s premier family law group here today to schedule a consultation.

Alimony and Asset Division in Divorce

As couples navigate the challenging path of divorce, alimony and asset division are critical aspects that demand attention. But divorce laws differ by state. Here’s what you need to know about divorce proceedings and asset division in the state of Illinois. 

Asset division plays a significant role in determining the financial future of both parties involved. In this blog, we will explore the concepts of alimony and asset division in divorce, shedding light on how they work and what factors influence their outcomes. Here’s what you should know.

Alimony: Providing Financial Support

Alimony is a financial arrangement where one spouse provides financial support to the other after a divorce or separation. Its primary goal is to help financially disadvantaged spouses maintain a standard of living to what they enjoyed during the marriage. Alimony can be temporary or permanent, depending on various factors. Here’s a look at some of the factors that are considered:

  • Income Disparity: The most critical factor in determining alimony is the income disparity. If one spouse earns significantly more than the other, they may be required to provide financial support.
  • Duration of Marriage: Longer marriages often result in higher alimony awards. The courts typically consider the marriage’s impact on the dependent spouse’s career and financial prospects.
  • Contributions to the Marriage: Courts also consider the contributions of each spouse to the marriage, both financial and non-financial. This includes homemaking, childcare, and support for the other spouse’s career.
  • Parental Agreements: Parental responsibilities are arrangements that can affect alimony, as the custodial parent may receive more support due to increased expenses related to raising children.

Asset Division: Splitting the Marital Pie

Asset division involves dividing the marital property and debts between spouses fairly and equitably. It’s essential to understand that the goal is not necessarily to divide everything equally but rather fairly, considering the unique circumstances of the marriage. Determining a fair and equitable division of assets can be intricate and contentious, especially when significant assets are involved. Here are some factors that influence asset division:

  • Property Ownership: Marital property typically includes assets acquired during the marriage, such as homes, cars, bank accounts, and investments. These are subject to division. Separate property, acquired before the marriage or through inheritance, is generally exempt.
  • Duration of Marriage: The length of the marriage can impact asset division. Longer marriages often result in a more equitable division of assets.
  • Custodial Arrangements: Parental responsibilities can influence asset division as they affect the financial responsibilities of each spouse towards their children.
  • Future Needs: The court also considers the future financial needs of each spouse. For example, if one spouse is financially dependent and unable to support themselves, they may receive a more significant share of assets.

Marital Vs. Separate Property

In the context of divorce, understanding the distinction between marital and separate property is key. The marital property encompasses assets acquired during the marriage, regardless of which spouse’s name is on the title. This includes income earned, real estate purchased, and investments made during the marriage. Marital property is generally subject to division between the spouses during divorce proceedings.

In contrast, the separate property comprises assets acquired before the marriage or received as gifts or inheritances during the marriage but designated as separate. These assets typically remain with the individual who owns them and are not subject to division. Recognizing and understanding the differences between the two is crucial for a fair and equitable distribution of assets during the divorce process. Working alongside a seasoned family law attorney can help you protect your rights and interests.

Illinois Asset Division

When couples get a divorce in Illinois, the courts don’t split everything down the middle like in certain other states. Instead, Illinois follows a more intricate approach called “equitable distribution.” Here’s how it works:

  1. Contribution to the Marriage: The court looks at what each spouse brought to the marriage, both in terms of money and non-money contributions like taking care of the home or children.
  2. Duration of the Marriage: How long the marriage lasted matters, as it can affect how assets are divided.
  3. Economic Circumstances: Each spouse’s financial situation, including income and needs, is considered.
  4. Non-Marital Property: Things owned before marriage or received as gifts or inheritance during marriage may not be split.
  5. Custodial Arrangements: If there are kids, the court looks at custody and how it impacts finances.
  6. Spousal Support (Alimony): Whether one spouse needs support payments is factored in.
  7. Tax Consequences: Taxes resulting from asset division are also considered to make things fair.
  8. Wasteful Dissipation: If one spouse recklessly spends or wastes money, it can affect the division.
  9. Future Needs: The court thinks about what each person will need down the road, especially if one is in a tougher spot after the divorce.
  10. Agreements: Any agreements made before or during the marriage, like prenups, are taken into account if they meet legal standards.

Remember, “equitable distribution” doesn’t always mean a perfect 50/50 split. It’s about creating a fair and just arrangement based on each family’s unique situation. This process can be tricky, so it’s a good idea to work with a skilled family law attorney to help ensure your rights are protected during asset division in Illinois.

How a Divorce Attorney Can Help

Divorce is a complex and emotionally charged journey that often requires the guidance of seasoned family law professionals. At Masters Law Group, our experienced family law attorneys are here to provide valuable assistance, helping to ensure that your rights and the best interests of your children remain at the forefront of every decision. Here are some crucial areas where we can help guide you:

  • Parenting Time: If you have children, it’s essential to work closely with your attorney to determine the most suitable arrangements for child custody and visitation. We aim to help create arrangements prioritizing 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 to 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, safeguarding your rights and the interests of your children.

Remember, family law professionals are your allies during this challenging time. By collaborating with a trusted family law attorney, you can confidently navigate the complexities of divorce and reduce the stress associated with the process. Your rights and the well-being of your family are our top priorities.

Last Thoughts

Understanding what alimony and asset division entails can help you in the long run regarding divorce proceedings. At Masters Law Group, you can rest assured knowing you are consulting with trusted and experienced legal professionals. Our family law attorneys can help protect your rights and interests during this challenging time. 

With a focus on helping clients residing in the Cook, Will, Lake, and Dupage counties, our practice is committed to providing a comprehensive suite of services to support parents, children, and families during challenging periods like divorce.

Get in touch with us today and schedule your complimentary consultation.

Navigating International Divorce

International divorce has become prevalent in our ever-connected world. Unraveling the intricate divorce web when it spans borders can be an emotional rollercoaster. If you are facing separation while living overseas, here’s what you need to know. 

The Hague Convention on Private International Law provides a comprehensive framework designed to tackle the legal complexities of these cases. 

Understanding the Hague Convention

The Hague Convention on the Recognition of Divorces and Legal Separations, commonly known as the Hague Divorce Convention, is an international treaty that establishes a legal framework for recognizing divorces and separations across different countries. The Convention was signed on June 1, 1970. Its main objective is to provide clarity in resolving conflicts of law and jurisdictional matters in international divorce cases.

The law is fundamental as the legal systems for divorce or separation can vary. The Hague Divorce Convention applies when a couple from different countries ends their marriage or obtains legal separation. It aims to ensure the divorce or separation is recognized and enforceable in the country where it was granted and in other countries that are party to the Convention. Let’s look at the aspects addressed by the Hague Divorce Convention in international divorce proceedings.

Jurisdiction and Applicable Law

The Convention provides rules and criteria to determine which country’s court has jurisdiction over divorce or separation. Establishing clear guidelines helps avoid conflicts and uncertainties that may arise when multiple countries could claim jurisdiction over a case—establishing a process for identifying a divorce or separation granted in one country as valid and legally effective in another country that is a party to the Convention.

This facilitates the implementation of the rights and obligations arising from the divorce or separation, such as:

  • Property Division.
  • Child Custody.
  • Spousal support across international borders.

The Hague Divorce Convention requires participating countries to establish central authorities for receiving and processing requests to recognize legal separations. These central authorities serve as contact points between individuals seeking recognition of their divorce or separation in other countries.

It’s important to note that not all countries are party to the Hague Divorce Convention. Therefore, its provisions may not apply in certain jurisdictions. Couples considering an international divorce or legal separation should consult with a divorce attorney familiar with Hague Divorce Law to understand the specific requirements and procedures applicable to their situation.

Central Authorities and Communication

Under the Hague Convention, each participating country designates a Central Authority. The Central Authorities act as intermediaries between the parties and authorities in different countries to ensure effective communication. One of the primary functions of the Central Authorities is to assist in locating parties involved in an international divorce case.

They help individuals identify and contact the appropriate authorities in the country where the divorce or legal separation was granted or is being sought. This is particularly important when one party resides in a different country—making effective communication channels between the relevant jurisdictions essential. 

Child Custody and Visitation

International divorces often involve child custody and visitation issues. The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction can provide guidelines for resolving these issues. Its primary objective is to protect the child’s best interests and establish cooperation between countries to enforce custody orders effectively.

The Hague Convention addresses child custody and visitation disputes in international divorces. It aims to protect the child’s best interests and promote cooperation between countries to enforce custody orders effectively. The Convention establishes guidelines for resolving international child custody disputes, considering factors such as the child’s habitual residence. Participating countries cooperate to determine jurisdiction and enforce custody orders made by applicable laws.

Parents involved in international child custody disputes should seek legal advice from international family law attorneys to navigate and ensure the child’s best interests are upheld. The Hague Convention does not dictate specific custody arrangements but provides a framework for prioritizing the child’s well-being. If a parent unlawfully removes a child violating a custody order, the Convention can ask for a prompt return to the child’s habitual residence.

Challenges and Limitations

While the Hague Convention on the Recognition of Divorces and Legal Separations provides a valuable framework for resolving international divorce matters, it is essential to acknowledge it has limitations. Although the Convention has set guidelines, countries may have legal systems and cultural perspectives that can change their performance. This results in variations of how the way is implemented, leading to difficulties in these cases. These challenges can occur due to variations in convention interpretation.

Another challenge lies in differences in legal systems and procedures among participating countries. Each country may have specific laws for divorce, legal separation, and child custody. These differences can affect jurisdiction, enforcing custody orders, and ensure the child’s best interests. Seeking guidance from legal professionals in international family law is crucial to effectively navigate these challenges and provide the best possible outcome in international divorce cases.

Working With an International Divorce Attorney

When navigating an international divorce, it is highly recommended to seek the assistance of an attorney with experience handling such cases. An international divorce attorney possesses the knowledge and understanding necessary to navigate the complexities and unique challenges in cross-border divorce proceedings.

At Masters Law Group, our attorneys have experience with international divorces and are well-versed in the legal frameworks of international family law. This experience and knowledge allow them to provide valuable guidance on how these legal instruments may apply to your specific situation.

Last Thoughts

International divorce cases can be intricate, involving a comprehensive understanding of the legal framework and potential hurdles. By familiarizing yourself with the Convention and seeking legal advice, you can navigate international divorce with confidence and clarity. At Masters Law Group, we are here to assist you. Take the first step towards resolving your international divorce by scheduling your complimentary consultation with us today.

 

Illinois Property Division in Divorce

If you are approaching divorce in Illinois, you may wonder how the law treats the division of marital property. Here’s what you need to know. 

Divorce is a difficult and emotional process that can be made even more complicated by the division of property between spouses. Marital property includes more than your family home. The legal definition of an asset in a divorce is anything that has a real value. Assets can include tangible items that can be bought and sold such as cars, properties, furniture, jewelry and even cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin

Illinois is an equitable distribution state, which means that marital property is divided fairly, but not necessarily equally, between the spouses. This is in contrast to community property states, where marital property is divided equally between the spouses.

The Strain of Property Division on Divorcing Couples

The division of property that you and your spouse have shared for years can seem especially tricky, often introducing fresh grievances or re-igniting old ones in the process. Here are some of the reasons why property division can be difficult in divorce:

  1. Emotional attachments to property: Couples may have emotional attachments to certain properties, such as a family home or heirloom, which can make it difficult to negotiate a fair division.
  2. Disagreements about what is fair: Spouses may have different ideas about what is a fair division of property. For example, one spouse may argue that they should receive a larger share of the marital property because they earned more money, while the other spouse may argue that they should receive a larger share because they contributed more to the household.
  3. Complexity of assets: Couples may have complex assets, such as businesses, investments, or retirement accounts, that are difficult to value and divide.
  4. Difficulty agreeing on values: Even when the assets are not complex, it can be difficult to agree on the value of the assets, especially if they have appreciated or depreciated in value since they were acquired.
  5. Legal complexities: Property division in divorce can be a legally complex process, and couples may struggle to understand the relevant laws and regulations.
  6. Fear of financial instability: Divorce can have a significant impact on a person’s financial stability, and couples may be afraid of the financial consequences of a property division that they perceive as unfair.

Equitable Distribution in Illinois

As mentioned, Illinois is an Equitable distribution state, meaning that a court will divide the marital property in a way that is fair and just, taking into account various factors such as:

  • The contributions each spouse made to the acquisition, preservation, or increase in value of the marital property;
  • The length of the marriage;
  • Primary caregiver status for the child/children;
  • The economic circumstances of each spouse at the time of the property division;
  • Any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements between the spouses;
  • The age, health, and occupation of each spouse;
  • The needs of each spouse; and
  • Any other factors the court deems relevant.

Marital property in Illinois includes all property acquired by either spouse during the marriage, regardless of how it is titled, except for property acquired by gift, inheritance, or a property acquired in exchange for property acquired before the marriage.

Non-marital property, on the other hand, includes property acquired by a spouse before the marriage, property acquired by gift or inheritance, and property acquired in exchange for non-marital property.

Tax Consequences

You will want to be sure to understand how the decisions you make about the division of your property will affect the taxes owed by both you and your spouse.

For instance, if you sell your home or other assets during your divorce, you may be required to pay capital gains taxes. Understanding and addressing tax-related issues will help you avoid financial problems that may arise after you complete your divorce.

Community Property Laws in Illinois

Illinois is not a community property state. Community property states, such as California and Texas, divide marital property equally between the spouses regardless of the contributions each spouse made to acquiring or maintaining the property.

In a community property state, property acquired by either spouse during the marriage is considered community property, and each spouse has an equal interest in it. This includes income earned during the marriage and any property acquired with that income.

Illinois and other equitable distribution states, on the other hand, divide marital property in a way that is fair and just based on the factors discussed above.

Hidden Assets

It is not uncommon for parties to hide their assets from their ex’s and the courts to help swing the distribution of property in their direction.

When it comes to property division, it’s important to make a list of all assets and debts that you and your spouse share. This includes assets that are solely in your name or your spouse’s name. This involves everything from retirement accounts and investments to real estate and personal property. Having a detailed inventory of your assets will help your lawyer build a stronger case and ensure that you receive a fair settlement.

It’s also crucial to be honest with your lawyer about any challenges you may face during the divorce process. This includes concerns about child custody or your spouse hiding assets or income.

Getting the Legal Help You Need

If you are facing divorce in Illinois, you might decide you want an attorney to help you with your case. It is important to get an experienced lawyer when discussing property division after divorce for several reasons:

  1. Knowledge of the law: A divorce attorney will have a deep understanding of the laws and regulations that govern property division in your state, including the factors that a court will consider when dividing marital property. This knowledge will be invaluable in helping you negotiate a fair and equitable division of property.
  2. Objectivity: Divorce can be an emotionally charged process, and it can be difficult to negotiate property division when you are feeling hurt, angry, or resentful. A divorce attorney can provide an objective perspective and help you make decisions that are in your best interests.
  3. Protection of your rights: A divorce attorney will work to protect your rights and ensure that you receive a fair division of property. They will help you identify assets that may be subject to division and make sure that those assets are valued correctly. They will also help you understand your options for negotiating a division of property, including mediation and litigation if necessary.
  4. Avoiding mistakes: Property division can be a complex process, and it is easy to make mistakes that could have long-lasting financial consequences. A divorce attorney will help you avoid these mistakes and ensure that you are making informed decisions about your property division.
  5. Negotiation skills: A divorce attorney will have strong negotiation skills that can be invaluable in reaching a fair and equitable division of property. They will work to find creative solutions to complex property division issues and help you achieve your goals.

An experienced divorce attorney can help you navigate the complex process of property division and ensure that you receive a fair and equitable division of property.

Conclusion

Divorcing couples may struggle with property division because of emotional attachments, disagreements about what is fair, complex assets, difficulty agreeing on values, legal complexities, and fear of financial instability. It is important for couples to work with experienced divorce attorneys who can guide them through the process and help them reach a fair and equitable property division agreement.

If you are going through a divorce in Illinois and have questions about property division, contact the award-winning attorneys at Masters Law Group. Our highly experienced divorce lawyers are ready to guide you through the process and ensure that your rights are protected.

Set up your consultation here today. 

Post-Divorce Modifications in Illinois

Divorce can be an emotionally charged process, but even after it is finalized, there may be situations that arise that require a modification.

If you are a resident of Illinois, you may have questions about the post-divorce modification process. Whether you are currently in the middle of a divorce, or have already finalized your divorce, this blog will provide you with valuable information and insights.

Marriage Doesn’t Always Run Smoothly

The United States has the sixth highest divorce rate in the world, with 40% to 50% of married couples filing for a divorce. Usually, second or third marriages in the United States have a higher divorce rate: 60% of second marriages and about 73% of third marriages end in divorce.

While Illinois has one of the lowest divorce rates in the nation, it still has an average of 6.2 divorces per thousand marriages.

U.S. states with the lowest divorce rate

With these large numbers of divorces occurring each year, there will be some cases where post-divorce disputes arise.

What is a post-divorce Dispute?

Also known as a post-decree dispute, post-divorce disputes often arise when one party does not fulfill obligations indicated in the divorce settlement. Often, one ex-spouse determines that the other has violated a court order relating to the divorce, for example, when one ex-spouse fails to pay court-ordered alimony.

Some of the most common issues involve:

  • the payment of college expenses,
  • recalculations of child support and emancipation of children,
  • as well as modifications of maintenance.

Illinois has specific legal standards that relate to each of these issues, and we can help inform you of the law that relates to your post-judgment issue.

Many individuals are eager to close this chapter of their lives and move on. However, there may be situations in the future where the court-ordered arrangements may need to be adjusted. This blog is an essential resource for anyone going through post-divorce modification in Illinois. Below, we will cover common questions about post-modification.

POST-DIVORCE MODIFICATIONS IN ILLINOIS

In order to change your divorce decree, parenting plan, or other court orders from your divorce, you must file a Petition for Modification. To initiate the process, you must file a petition with the circuit court in the county where the original order was entered. Your ex-spouse must be served the Petition, and they can then choose to file a Response. 

The court will then schedule a hearing where both parties can present evidence and argue their case. The judge will then consider the evidence and decide if modifications are necessary. If modifications are approved, a new court order outlining the changes will be issued. Both parties must agree on its terms moving forward.

How Do I Know If I Qualify for Post-Divorce Modification?

Typically, modifications to divorce orders will only be approved if substantial changes in circumstances have happened since the original decree was entered. This change could be changes in any of the following:

  • Income and financial resources.
  • Living arrangements.
  • Changes to health and well-being.
  • Changes in need of you or your children. 

The changes must be significant enough to require alterations to the previous orders. Sometimes, modifications are sought due to unforeseen events or issues that were not considered during the divorce, such as uncovered debts or the reappearance of a pre-existing health issue.

What is considered a Major Change in Circumstances?

To modify child custody or other orders established during a divorce, it’s necessary to demonstrate substantial changes that have impacted you and your family. These changes could include changes in financial resources, such as job loss or a health condition that affects one’s ability to work. 

Other events that have affected family members, like remarriage, health problems affecting a parent’s child care capabilities, plans to move, or criminal charges leading to jail time or restrictions, may also play a role in these cases.

How Long Do I Have to Wait to Modify Child Custody After My Divorce?

In Illinois, changes to the allocation of parental responsibilities cannot be made within 2 years of a child custody order being put in place, unless a child’s safety is at risk. A parent must provide evidence that the current custody arrangement poses a risk to the child’s physical, psychological, or emotional well-being.

In contrast, modifications to parenting time can be requested without a waiting period. These requests may be made if there has been a considerable change that impacts the child’s best interests or for minor adjustments. This must be agreed upon by both parents and it needs to reflect the current arrangement. Additionally, modifications can be made if the court was unaware of these circumstances that would have affected the original child custody decision.

Can Changes be Made on Property Division?

Typically, court orders for the division of marital property are final and cannot be altered after the divorce is completed. However, in certain situations, a couple may need to go back to court to handle issues that came up or were discovered post-divorce. 

For instance, if you find out that your spouse had undisclosed assets or didn’t provide required financial information during the divorce, you can file a petition to revisit the case. This would ensure an equitable distribution of all marital assets. There are many factors at hand when you try to split up assets. Here are just a few that are considered:

  • Economic circumstances of each spouse
  • Child upbringing costs
  • Existing court maintenance orders
  • Financial contributions from previous marriages
  • Prenuptial or postnuptial agreements
  • The status of each spouse (i.e. age, health, occupation, employability)
  • Consequences of tax reallocation from a property division

Next Steps To Consider

If you are going through the post-divorce modification process in Illinois, it’s important to protect you and your family. Consider the following steps:

  • Review your divorce agreement to see what can and cannot be modified.
  • Determine if a substantial change in circumstances has occurred.
  • Consider consulting an attorney to help you navigate the process and provide you with guidance on your legal rights and options.
  • Gather relevant documentation such as financial records, medical records, or other evidence that may support your request for modification.
  • File the petition with the circuit court in the county where the original order was made.
  • Attend the court hearing and provide evidence to support your request for modification.
  • Be prepared for possible outcomes, such as modification granted, denied, or delayed.

It is important to keep in mind that the legal process of modifying a divorce decree can be complex and time-consuming, and seeking the help of a skilled family law attorney can be helpful in ensuring that your rights and interests are protected.

Last Thoughts

Navigating divorce can prove challenging for all involved parties. If you are considering filing for a post-divorce modification, it’s important to speak with an experienced Illinois divorce attorney. At Masters Law Group, our seasoned attorneys can review your case and provide guidance on how to move forward with applicable modifications.

Masters Law Group ALWAYS advocates on your behalf to make sure your rights are protected and family needs are legally met. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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.

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.