Thursday, May 21, 2015

10 Things to think about if you are considering a divorce

Most approach divorce slowly and cautiously. Even when people are in bad relationships and know it is time to move on, fear and anxiety slows them down. But the world doesn’t stop turning while you deliberate; your action (or inaction) can have a profound effect in the event a divorce is filed later. Here are some things to think about when deciding how to proceed:
  1. Take care of yourself. Now is not the time to fall apart…conserve your resources and energy. Physical health and emotional wellbeing are interrelated. Take care of your body, spirit and mind. Don’t let anticipated life changes overwhelm you: eat healthy food, meditate, exercise and get enough sleep. Take care of yourself first, so that you can take care of your family. 
  2. Stay liquid. Avoid incurring debt or assuming any large financial commitments. If you own a business, don’t undertake any major expansions or commit to obligations that will stretch your resources. Preservation––not growth––is critical at this time.
  3. Keep your eyes open. Watch and listen. Does anything seem suspicious about family finances?  Are there any unidentified withdrawals from bank accounts? Keep notes of anything important. While large scale copying of financial records is unnecessary, selectively copy important financial documents, such as tax returns. Also, consider ordering a credit report on yourself to determine potential issues with your credit.
  4. Keep your cool. Don’t lose your temper––stay composed. Threats or aggressive comments won’t get you anywhere and may come back to haunt you. Nobody ever got into trouble listening. Say less and listen more. Avoid making any incriminating posts on social media as well. While it may feel good to blast the other woman on Facebook, don’t do it.  Keep the drama to a minimum. Also, remember: anything you put in writing, including text messages or e-mails, will be used against you in court. Think before you write. If you need help managing your emotions, seek therapy or counseling.
  5. Dont involve the kids. Regardless of your children’s ages, don’t make them confidants or complain to them about your spouse. Use your friends or a therapist to confess your spouse’s sins; don’t dump your problems on your children. Remember: regardless of your relationship, your spouse is still your child’s parent and your child loves him or her.
  6. Keep a journal. Particularly if you expect contested custody issues, keep a journal of notes for future reference. And don’t leave the journal lying around the house. Make sure to keep it in a safe place. If it is a digital journal, make sure it is password protected.
  7. Maintain perspective. While it may seem so, divorce is not the end of the world. Although everybody’s life will change, often it is for the better. Psychologists confirm that divorce doesn’t affect children as much as the level of conflict between parents. Stay focused on being a great parent and don’t become paralyzed with fear. Life goes on…
  8. Make an inventory. If you have substantial collectibles or physical things that can be removed from the house, inventory the property, either in writing or in a video recording. If there are items that have great sentimental value, and your spouse is a punitive personality, you may want to get those things out of the house.
  9. Watch the cash. If you or your spouse has cash at the house, it may disappear at some point. Get a detailed inventory and if possible, place the money in a safety deposit box or bank account. If you are worried about your spouse cleaning out bank accounts, you have three options:  (1) transfer funds in a joint account into an account under your sole control, (2) remove half of the funds and leave the balance, or (3) do nothing and hope for the best. If your spouse removes money for an improper purpose during a period that the marriage is undergoing a breakdown, he or she must account for the use of the money. Unsubstantiated claims that, “I spent it on family expenses” is insufficient. If the judge does not get a full accounting, the judge can charge your spouse with the loss of that money as part of the final judgment.
  10. Consult with a lawyer. While you may not be ready for a divorce, at least learn your rights and have a lawyer lined up just in case. A good motto is, “hope for the best but plan for the worst.” Often emergency action needs to be taken to preserve assets or address parenting issues. Choosing a lawyer in advance permits you to act quickly to protect yourself or your children.
You can purchase Steven Peskind's book titled, Divorce in Illinois: The Legal Process, Your Rights and What to Expect on by clicking here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Will my spouse need to contribute to our children’s college expenses?

Excerpt taken from Steven N. Peskind's book titled, Divorce in Illinois: The Legal Process, Your Rights and What to Expect.

A judge can order either of you to contribute toward your children’s college expenses, assuming you both have an ability to pay. The judge will ordinarily not address the issue of college expenses at the time of the divorce unless a child is in college or will be attending college shortly. If the children are deemed too young, the judge will sometimes specifically reserve the issue. At the time that the children do attend college, either party can come back to court and seek contribution from the other. Even without a specific reservation, either of you could come back to court later, seeking an order requiring the other parent to contribute.

Judges consider a number of factors in allocating respon- sibility for college expenses. Here are some of them:
  • The financial resources of both parents
  • The standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved
  • The financial resources of the child
  • The child’s academic performance
Judges frequently cap a parent’s responsibility based on the costs of attending the University of Illinois or other pub- lic state school. So, if the child attends a private school, the contribution will be based upon the costs of attendance at the University of Illinois, regardless of the actual costs.

In addition to tuition, the court may order the other parent to contribute to other costs: room and board, fraternity or sorority costs, spending money, and other incidentals. Judges often use a formula when the parents’ incomes are roughly equal: mom pays one-third, dad pays one-third, and the child pays one-third. The child’s contribution may include grants or scholarships they obtain. There are no absolute formulas here, and the court employs a balancing test to come up with a fair result.

Finally, the judge can order contribution for costs incurred when the child is living with the other parent during extended breaks, or for other miscellaneous expenses incurred while the child is living with either parent. 

You can purchase Steven Peskind's book titled, Divorce in Illinois: The Legal Process, Your Rights and What to Expect on by clicking here.