Tag Archive for: divorce lawyer

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.

Can Hiding Crypto from Your Ex Get You in Legal Trouble?

If you typed this article’s heading into an online search engine, chances are you’re considering hiding digital assets in your divorce case. Here’s why it’s a very bad idea.

The dramatic rise of cryptocurrency has led some spouses to hiding those digital assets during divorce settlements. In a divorce, both parties are expected to be honest about their assets, as all assets acquired during marriage are subject to division in a divorce. While property, stocks, bonds, bank accounts and 401(k)s can be easily tracked down, cryptocurrencies can be a bit more difficult. However, as it becomes more common, many lawyers are more aware of them and have started to learn the challenges surrounding them. 

Which begs the question, is it illegal to hide crypto from your ex during a divorce? 

What assets must be disclosed in a divorce? 

In an Illinois-based divorce case, it is legally required that each spouse discloses any and all assets, income and debt as part of the financial disclosure process. This also includes digital assets, such as cryptocurrencies. The issue with crypto, though, is enforceability and tracking it down if it is hidden. Regardless, spouses who fail to disclose still face legal trouble. Financial disclosures are signed under penalty of perjury so non-disclosure could lead to criminal charges. 

Tracking crypto

While there are ways to locate cryptocurrency activity, it is still difficult to discover and you could need experienced help from a Cryptocurrency experienced attorney. Older forms of crypto like bitcoin and ethereum are easier to track but other, more anonymous forms, are much harder for even experts to find. If exchanges are based in a foreign country, it can become even more difficult. However, it is still possible. Lawyers like the attorneys at Masters Law Group can grant subpoenas to get information if trades occurred in the United States. Additionally, forensic investigators or financial experts may be hired to uncover the assets.

What happens if I hide assets in a divorce? 

Hiding assets in a divorce will likely lead to discovery. Submitting incorrect documentation, failing to disclose assets or intentionally concealing them could lead to facing criminal charges. Perjury and contempt of court are the most common charges faced from these activities, but in extreme cases, you could pay large fines or even be forced to spend time in jail. 

Additionally, hiding assets is considered highly unethical by the court. Judges can use this information to make their own decisions relating to asset division. Oftentimes, attempting to hide your assets leads to your ex-spouse’s benefit, receiving a higher percentage of the total assets. 

Final Thoughts

Hiding assets is always a risky proposition and likely not worth it. Even though crypto is difficult to track, it’s still possible and the outcome would not be in your favor. It’s best to be honest about your assets during divorce proceedings, increasing the chances of getting your assets split fairly.

If you’re going through a divorce and are in need of legal help, Masters Law Group is here to help. Contact us today.

Common Mistakes to Avoid During a Divorce

Divorce is an emotionally taxing experience, but the stress can be minimized greatly through proper preparation and avoiding pitfalls. If you’re facing the unsettling situation of divorce, here are our top pitfalls to steer clear of. 

Divorce is difficult on many layers. It not only affects you and your spouse, but your family and friends. With this in mind, minimizing the difficulties of divorce should be a top priority alongside the goals of your separation. But how do we go about minimizing these challenges?

Beyond choosing a quality divorce firm and emotionally preparing yourself, there are many pitfalls – that if avoided – will make divorce much easier.

Read on to learn common mistakes we’ve observed at Masters Law Group after years of counseling those seeking divorce.

Not Talking to a Divorce Attorney

Some, when looking to divorce will attempt to settle on their own. This may come from an idea of an “amicable approach”, but can put you and your loved ones in a compromising position in the long term.

First and foremost, attempting divorce on your own removes experienced legal counsel from the equation, opening you up to variables that can negatively affect you. Things like asset division and custody of children have legal nuances that simply aren’t easily navigated.

Avoid this pitfall if you can. Seek out quality legal counsel, so that your life post-divorce is the one you want it to be.

Setting Unrealistic Goals & Timelines

The emotion of divorce can often affect our approach to it. Whether you are seeking the divorce, or your former partner, you may feel that certain aspects are “unfair” or the process needs to move quicker than it is.

One such problem that can arise with an unrealistic timeline, for example, is a spouse becoming disgruntled and seeking to drag out the process to inflict financial or emotional damage on the other. 

This issue is another reason to have legal counsel that can be emotionally separated from the divorce itself. This is going to help you set proper timelines and realistic goals, while also giving you an advocate working at the highest level to achieve the best course of action for you.

Other Mistakes to Avoid

  • Dating: While everyone involved in the divorce wants to move on, dating can complicate an already difficult situation. It can create animosity with your former partner, and may push them to make the divorce more difficult than need be.
  • Divorce Tunnel Vision: While it’s easy to get wrapped up in your divorce, it’s paramount to consider life after. Are you financially set and aware? Have you considered how to navigate the logistics of shared custody of children if it pertains to your situation?  Consult with your financial advisor and legal counsel on these concerns.
  • Avoiding Negotiation: If you can communicate with your former partner, negotiation is always an ideal way to mediate. If you can do this, you can often avoid going to court. This will shorten the divorce process, limit costs and ultimately reduce stress on all involved.
  • Misleading Your Legal Counsel: Do your best to be truthful at the highest level. Any omission of facts, assets, or animosity between you and your former partner can affect the divorce process. If your legal counsel isn’t aware, these unforeseen challenges can potentially derail a plan they’ve laid out. This can ultimately cost you more money and reduce the positive outcome of the goals you’ve set.

Final Thoughts

Avoiding pitfalls and side stepping potential challenges is your best course of action to achieve a speedy and positive outcome in your divorce. Consequently, being unprepared or even attempting divorce yourself can walk you right into these issues, causing emotional harm and potential financial and legal ramifications.

At Masters Law Group, it’s our firm’s mission to solve your problems and achieve the best possible results for you and your loved ones. If you’re currently navigating a divorce, or considering one, schedule a consultation with us today to learn how we can help.

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.

The Rise of the Crypto Divorce

Talk to anyone who’s gone through divorce and they’d likely say the experience was no walk in the park. If you’re facing a divorce in 2022, there’s a new asset that needs to be accounted for – Cryptocurrencies. Here’s what you need to know.

In the last few years, the cryptocurrency market has exploded. It’s hard to go a day without hearing about it in the news. But what does that mean for your divorce?

Well, if you’re dealing with a crypto-rich spouse, it can mean some serious headaches. Crypto assets are notoriously difficult to trace and control—and it doesn’t help that there are still plenty of legal gray areas when it comes to cryptocurrencies themselves. That means they’re not always easy to deal with in court cases like divorce proceedings.

When it comes to discovering hidden assets such as cryptocurrencies, Masters Law Group has your back. Here’s everything you need to know about crypto assets in divorce cases so you can make sure you’re getting what’s fair.

Cryptocurrency Basics

Cryptocurrency is a form of digital currency that uses the technology of cryptography to secure its transactions. It is designed to be used as a medium of exchange, like money, but it can also be used to transfer data securely.

One of the early appeals of cryptocurrency was that it provided the opportunity to transfer large amounts of wealth anonymously without any government or institutional interference. These days, cryptocurrency is used by some owners to take care of routine matters such as paying bills, buying goods, and others use it as collateral to obtain loans. Many others are purchasing it as a form of investment.

The most popular form of cryptocurrency is Bitcoin. Some examples of other digital currencies include Litecoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Zcash, Bitcoin Cash, Cardano, among others. 

Why is Cryptocurrency Relevant Upon Divorce?

Cryptocurrency is an asset to be considered in the financial settlement. The reality is that it is not a feature of mainstream divorce yet. This is because a large proportion of the general public still views cryptocurrency as too much of a gamble and the difficulty of identifying whether or not someone holds cryptocurrency.

However, with the current growth in popularity we can expect to see more cases involving cryptocurrencies as assets for divorce settlements. Cryptocurrency is increasingly being used as an alternative form of payment and investment, so it’s important to understand how it could be treated in your divorce case.

Looking For Cryptocurrency Assets

If you suspect that your spouse/civil partner is hiding cryptocurrency from you, there are steps you can take to investigate the matter.

First, make sure that both parties provide full and frank disclosure. This means that both parties should disclose all of their assets, including cryptocurrency. If one party suspects that the other isn’t disclosing cryptocurrency in the course of their divorce proceedings, then preliminary investigative works need to begin.

The standard disclosure process requires each party to disclose bank statements. These should be carefully examined to see if there are any transactions or proof of purchase of cryptocurrency i.e. exchanges or trading platforms. If the bank statements aren’t showing anything, then you can  request your spouse’s credit card statements. You also can make a specific request for disclosure of all apps on their spouse’s smartphone.

Agreements on Dividing Crypto Assets

The rise of cryptocurrency has created a whole new world for the courts. With its fluctuating value, crypto assets can represent substantial sums of money that are not always easy to track down. This can lead to court cases where one spouse is accused of hiding assets from their spouse, or where an unscrupulous party will try to use the anonymity of crypto assets to hide their own assets.

When a couple gets divorced, it can be difficult to determine how to divide the assets. In the case of cryptocurrency, however, the process is fairly straightforward.

  • Simple Division: You receive a share of the cryptocurrency in its current form.
  • Custodial Holding: If you decide to not set up a cryptocurrency account, you can find the custodial approach suitable. A third-party custodian can transact in cryptocurrency, receive your share and hold it until the divorce is final.
  • Cryptocurrency Owner Liquidation: The former spouse who owns the asset will convert the other party’s share to cash. The digital currency’s value on the day of sale determines how much money you receive.
  • Liquidation With No Claim Upon Remaining Cryptocurrency: This approach starts the same as #3. However, both parties have agreed in advance that the original owner of the cryptocurrency now has full title to the remaining asset and does not owe the former spouse any remaining crypto.

Regardless of whether you decide to keep your cryptocurrency or sell it off, it’s important to remember that there is no loophole when it comes to divorce proceedings. The courts are used to the volatility and fluctuating value of shares and other types of assets—cryptocurrency is a whole new phenomenon.

If you’re having doubts and suspect that your spouse is hiding crypto and don’t know what signs to look out for, you can find that information here. If you have questions about the different types of crypto and are trying to get acquainted with the market, you can find that information here.

Masters Law Group – Cryptocurrency and Divorce Lawyers

When you are facing the divorce process in Illinois and are dealing with cryptocurrency asset division, do not hesitate to call the attorneys at Masters Law Group. 

Our team of attorneys are highly experienced in dealing with Cryptocurrencies in divorce and are here to answer your questions about divorce and digital asset division.

Contact us today for more information, or 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.

Beaming With Pride: Illinois Civil Unions

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

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

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

What is a Civil Union?

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

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

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

Civil Union Guidelines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Illinois Divorce Process and Cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrencies are a new form of currency, rapidly gaining popularity and media attention across the globe. It’s estimated more than 20 million Americans may own cryptocurrency, and how to split holdings has become a growing concern in divorce settlements. 

The problem for divorcing couples is that the division and valuation of cryptocurrencies can be just as difficult as dividing up the equity in a home.

Throughout our cryptocurrency series we have answered many questions regarding different types of crypto and where you can find hidden assets. In a world where cryptocurrency is increasingly accepted as legitimate, it’s only natural that Masters Law Group’s experienced attorneys would know how to handle it. Here’s a quick look at how the state handles the issue at hand.

Disclosing Bitcoins And Cryptocurrencies in an Illinois Divorce

It’s important to understand how the state of Illinois divides and separates cryptocurrency assets. Illinois has taken steps to protect individuals who have invested in cryptocurrencies by allowing them to be counted as part of their overall net worth during divorce proceedings.

However, there are some stipulations involved in this process. Any money received from selling cryptocurrency is considered to be liquidated property and thus should not be counted as part of the overall net worth of an individual during a divorce settlement.

This process may trigger a couple of questions. How would you verify Bitcoin holdings? Would you print a screen grab from an online platform where you hold Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies? Would you entrust your ex-spouse or their attorneys with the password to your accounts? Coin exchange companies such as Coinbase will issue a 1099-K each year if there have been $20,000 or more in exchanges of cryptocurrency.

Typically, the opposing party’s attorney will go through the process of cleaning up the financial affidavit and ask you for these documents to verify the claimed assets. The opposing party’s attorney will issue a “Notice To Produce” asking for copies of statements for your 401k, bank accounts, etc. If you have access to those documents, you must provide them a copy of those documents if they request it. Failure to do so can result in a finding of contempt of court.

The Illinois Department of Revenue requires 1099-K forms to be submitted electronically to Illinois when four or more separate transactions exceed $1,000 or if you are required by the IRS* to electronically file Forms 1099-K.

Essentially any 4 crypto-currency purchases, sales or trades will trigger a 1099-K in Illinois and the cryptocurrency holder will have those 1099-K as part of their standard tax packet. If your spouse will not fully disclose their cryptocurrency holdings, you may have to turn to an expensive third party to discover any additional holdings.

How Do You Divide Crypto in Illinois?

After determining the actual existence and quantity of your spouse’s cryptocurrency, the next step in the analysis is to figure out what portion of the cryptocurrency is marital. In Illinois, all property held by either party is presumed marital property unless it falls under an exception such as being acquired before the marriage, being a gift or an inheritance.

Typically, if both parties agree to the settlement they might have to include a formula for the volatility of the crypto. Once the judge approves of the formula, the price of that cryptocurrency in the martial estate becomes more foreseeable. 

Dividing crypto in Illinois is similar to the division of any other assets. Illinois is not a community property state, which means the court will split assets purchased, converted or appraised throughout the marriage in an equitable manner. It’s important to note that when it’s split equitably, it doesn’t always mean equal. Here are a couple factors that determine equitable distribution:

  • Age, health, financial circumstance of a spouse
  • Financial contributions to marital estate
  • Court-ordered obligations related to previous marriages
  • Child custody considerations
  • Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements
  • Tax Concerns
  • Marriage Duration
  • Alimony provisions

If you are ever unsure about the ownership of your property, you should consult legal counsel immediately in order to avoid any uncertainness. Lastly, if both parties agree to the settlement they might have to include a formula for the volatility of the crypto. Once the judge approves of the formula, the price of that cryptocurrency in the martial estate becomes more foreseeable.

The volatility of the price of these assets makes it very difficult to adequately value at the time of the divorce. Discovery and final negotiation of a divorce can sometimes take months and in that time a cryptocurrency could double or halve in value. A cash out of the cryptocurrency before the finality of the divorce is probably advised to finalize the marital value.

How Masters Law Group Can Help

When it comes to modern-day divorce cases, Masters Law Group has you covered on all things crypto. If you’re facing a divorce and suspect that your spouse is hiding crypto (and don’t know what signs to look out for), you can find that information in our recent blog here. If you have questions about the different types of popularized crypto, you can find that information right here.

Masters Law Group is here to help you through this stressful time. It’s important to consult your attorney as soon as you find any hidden cryptocurrency and discuss everything you know about the assets such as the type of crypto, the date of purchase and its appreciation. Gather any documents and records you may need in order to get your affairs in order. 

Our team of attorneys are highly experienced in dealing with Cryptocurrencies in divorce and are here to answer your questions about divorce and digital asset division.

Contact us today for more information, or to schedule a consultation.