It is not uncommon for people to have two homes and for people in Chicago, Illinois, that second home is often somewhere in Florida. Florida has many advantages: great weather in the winter, no income tax, and low property taxes. Chicago has its own advantages: high wages, job opportunities, lots of culture. So, people who have a home in each state eventually have to be a resident of one of the states for various purposes, usually taxation. But what about divorce in Chicago? Which state’s laws are advantageous for you in your divorce? Do you have the ability to choose which state you will file and prosecute your divorce?
As a divorce attorney in Chicago, Illinois and a Divorce Attorney in Naples, Florida, I will walk you through the options available to you if you have a home in Chicago and a home in Naples, Florida.
Where Can I File For Divorce in Chicago and Florida?
If one party to the divorce lives in Chicago, Illinois, the divorce can proceed in Chicago, Illinois. The Illinois statute requires that you be a resident of Illinois for 90 days before filing for divorce but in reality, if you file for divorce and then stick around for 90 days, you will be allowed to proceed with your divorce in Chicago.
Florida is a lot stricter. You absolutely positively have to live in Florida for at least six months continuously before you are allowed to file for divorce.
Chicago Divorce Lawyer
Russell D. Knight
1 North State #1500
Chicago, IL 60602
Naples Florida Divorce Lawyer
Russell D. Knight
3375 Pine Ridge Rd #201
Naples, FL 34109
The subsequent question is “Which courthouse in Chicago and Naples Florida do I file my divorce?”
If you live in Cook County, Illinois or your spouse lives in Cook County, Illinois there are six courthouses where you can file your divorce in Chicago. As a Chicago divorce lawyer, I only file at the Daley center in Chicago, Illinois. There are a variety of judges at the Daley Center (it’s the largest single courthouse in the world) and you have the option of substituting the judge if you’d like to exercise that right. The other courts within Cook County often only have one judge and you cannot substitute that judge without removing the case to Chicago’s Daley Center.
If you live in Naples, Florida there is only one courthouse to file your divorce in, the Collier County Courthouse. As a Divorce Attorney in Naples, Florida I only file divorce cases in Collier County when I file for Divorce in Naples for my clients.
You or your spouse are not locked into the particular court within which the case was first filed. Either of you can plead “forum non conveniens” wherein you explain to the court that you don’t live there, your spouse doesn’t really live there, that your children don’t live there, and that your marital property is not there. This usually requires that you file for divorce in Chicago in the state and county that you actually want the case to be heard. Typically, the judges from the two different counties get on the phone with each other and discuss where the case should actually be held. If the question is between Cook County, Illinois and Collier County, Florida, the judges will be familiar with me as a Chicago divorce lawyer and as a divorce lawyer in Naples, Florida.
Knowing where you can file (or can’t) you will now need to consider where you should file to put yourself at the greatest advantage based on the respective states.
Mediation for Divorce in Chicago
In both Illinois and Florida mediation is mandatory when there are children involved in a divorce. If the parties’ incomes are below a certain threshold Cook County, Illinois or Collier County, Florida can provide mediators. Parties with means can and should hire private mediators.
In Naples, Florida, financial mediation is required whereas in Chicago, Illinois it is merely optional (and rarely exercised).
In Florida, divorce attorneys are intimately involved with the mediation proceedings. The lawyers help with the negotiations as they proceed with the help of the mediator.
In Chicago, Illinois divorce lawyers usually tell their clients, “Good luck with the mediation. Let me know how it worked out.”
Child Custody After a Divorce In Chicago, Illinois and Naples, Florida.
Unlike the other aspects of a divorce, divorce in Chicago where your selection of venue can impact the results of your divorce, child custody does not allow for a much selection.
49 of the states in the United States entered into a treaty amongst themselves called the The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). This agreement provides a very specified layout of how to determine which state issues as to the children shall be determined.
The first test is always, “Where have the children been living for the last six months?” If the children have been living in Florida AND nothing has been filed, then Florida shall have jurisdiction over the children. If the children have been living in Florida for less than six months and one of the parents files a petition for custody (now known as a petition to allocate parenting responsibilities and parenting time) in Illinois then both the court in Florid and the court in Illinois must follow the regulations of the UCCJEA in determining which state will hear the case.
The UCCJEA can become extremely byzantine. The UCCJEA has rules for what happens when a child has been moved back and forth from a state within six months, for example. Typically, the two judges from the two different states get on the phone and discuss the matter cordially.
Keep in mind that even if a court decides that Florida or Illinois is the state within which custody matters shall be heard, both courts will consider what is best for the child in determining where the child will eventually live or who will have custody of the child. In my experience, there is clearly a “home court advantage” to whomever gets the case heard in their state. This is primarily due to the fact that contested custody cases are the worst kind and judges typically want to keep an eye on them. That requires the case, the parties and the children to stay in the state the court is located in.
A big difference in determining child custody and child visitation issues between Florida and Illinois is that Illinois judges will often say, “I can’t determine such personal issues such as where a child should spend the night and with who. Therefore, I will appoint a third attorney called a Guardian Ad Litem or Child Representative to represent the best interests of the child, investigate the situation and report back to me.”
In Florida, guardian ad litems are usually only available for children with no parents. Florida judges will rely on the representations made by the divorce attorneys in Naples, Florida.
Child Support after a Divorce In Chicago, Illinois and Naples, Florida.
Child support is typically determined by the laws where the child lives. But, if the divorce case is being heard in a state where the child does not live, the court will be likely to apply their own laws regarding child support because that is what the courts are empowered to do.
But once the child support is entered and the divorce is finalized, either parent can register the divorce in Chicago in the state where the child lives and ask for a modification of child support under the laws of that state.
In order to modify child support, a court in both Chicago, Illinois and Naples, Florida will require something in addition to just mentioning that the child lives in their state. The court will often require “a substantial change in circumstances.” This usually means a twenty percent change in the income of either party. Courts have a strong bias to dismiss cases that cannot prove the substantial change in circumstances because courts are there to settle conflicts. Courts love to say, “there is no conflict here. Therefore, there is no case.” For this reason, it is imperative that you employ a divorce attorney in Naples, Florida or a Chicago divorce lawyer if you file in either jurisdiction.
Child support is determined in a similar fashion in both Chicago, Illinois and Naples, Florida. The first step is to determine the income of both of the parents. Upon determining the income of the two parents, a number is calculated as child support payable to the parent with whom the child spends the most time with. In lieu of going through the guidelines tables for each state which will compare every foreseeable income between the two parties, I would direct the reader to find one of the many online calculators available throughout the internet for Illinois and Florida.
There are some differences between the Naples Florida and Chicago Illinois in determining the amount of child support beyond what I’ve described above.
In Illinois, the primary parent’s child support is not diminished until the non-primary parent has at least 146 overnight visits with the child.
In Florida, all parents who have the child spend 20% or less of their overnights with them pay “guidelines support.” Again, just use an online calculator to determine guidelines support.
If the non-primary parent has more than 20% of the overnights with the child, a new calculation is made. The non-primary parent with more than 20% of the overnights with the child shall calculate his child support as the guidelines support multiplies by 1.5 and then multiplied by the percentage they have with the child. This is not simple. Do not merely rely on an online calculator in this scenario. Hire a Chicago divorce lawyer or a Divorce attorney in Naples, Florida.
In both Florida and Illinois, children’s expenses beyond food and shelter are typically split between the parents proportionally to their income.
Florida has an additional requirement that the payor of daycare and/or health care expenses be extended a proportional credit to their child support obligation. This could increase or decrease a parent’s child support depending on who is paying what.
Alimony after a Divorce in Chicago Illinois and Florida.
Illinois calls alimony “maintenance.” For the purposes of comparing the Illinois and Florida’s laws, I will refer to the support a party receives from another party that is not child support as “alimony” for both states.
Illinois has very specific and predictable alimony laws. The greater earner pays the lesser earner 33% of his or her net income. This amount is then reduced by 25% of the lesser earner’s net income. The amount of support to be awarded is capped at 40% of the total of the two parties’ incomes.
This is not mandatory in every case. The court can make exceptions to this calculation for any of the following reasons or factors:
- If one party has a great deal of assets, they may not be entitled to maintenance because they can presumably support themselves with those assets after a divorce in Chicago.
- The needs of each party.
- The realistic present and future earning capacity of each party.
- Any impairment of the present and future earning capacity of the party seeking maintenance due to that party devoting time to domestic duties or having foregone or delayed education, training, employment or career opportunities due to the marriage.
- Any impairment of the realistic present or future earning capacity of the party against whom maintenance is sought.
- The time necessary to enable the party seeking maintenance to acquire appropriate education, training, and employment, and whether the party is able to support himself or herself through appropriate employment or any parental responsibility arrangements and its effect on the party seeking employment.
- The standard of living established during the marriage.
- The duration of the marriage.
- The age, health, station occupation, amount and sources of income, and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate liabilities, and the needs of each party.
- All sources of public and private income including, without limitation, disability and retirement income.
- The tax consequences of the property division upon the respective economic circumstances of the parties.
- Contributions and services by the party seeking maintenance to the education, training, career or career potential, or license of the other spouse.
- Any valid agreement of the parties.
- Any other factor that the court expressly finds to be just and equitable. (See, it really is anything)
Despite the above exceptions covering almost every possible scenario, Illinois courts prefer to apply a nice clean formula when determining alimony.
The length of the alimony in Illinois is more unchangeable. The length of alimony in Illinois is determined by the length of the marriage before the filing of the petition for dissolution of marriage.
Illinois courts apply the following percentages of the length of the marriage for the respective lengths of the marriage:
Less than 5 years (.20); 5 years or more but less than 6 years (.24); 6 years or more but less than 7 years (.28); 7 years or more but less than 8 years (.32); 8 years or more but less than 9 years (.36); 9 years or more but less than 10 years (.40); 10 years or more but less than 11 years (.44); 11 years or more but less than 12 years (.48); 12 years or more but less than 13 years (.52); 13 years or more but less than 14 years (.56); 14 years or more but less than 15 years (.60); 15 years or more but less than 16 years (.64); 16 years or more but less than 17 years (.68); 17 years or more but less than 18 years (.72); 18 years or more but less than 19 years (.76); 19 years or more but less than 20 years (.80). For a marriage of 20 or more years, the court, in its discretion, shall order maintenance for a period equal to the length of the marriage or for an indefinite term.
Even though Illinois’ alimony statute seems predictable, it is imperative that you retain a Chicago Divorce Lawyer to guide you through this process and ensure that you are paying and/or receiving the right amount of alimony.
Alimony in Florida works completely differently from Illinois. Florida has no statutorily specified amounts of alimony and Florida’s rules about the lengths of alimony are also not nearly as specific as Illinois.
In Florida, the courts consider whether the alimony requester is eligible for any and all of the four different kids of alimony.
There is rehabilitative alimony where the courts try to determine what it would cost to restore the spouse to their earning capacity had they never been married. This almost always means, sending the spouse to college (if they didn’t go).
Next is bridge-the-gap alimony which is a general acknowledgement that the transition from being married to being single is going to be harder financially for one spouse than the other. Therefore, in Florida, the spouse for which the transition will be easier may have to pay the other party alimony. You can see how this would be appropriate for a college educated housewife or househusband as they re-entered the work force.
Next is durational alimony. This is Florida alimony that has a set end date no matter what. Whether the receiver gets back on their feet or not. Durational alimony is typically only ordered for marriages that lasted longer than 7 years and less than 17 years. The amount and the length of durational alimony is determined by courts with no guidelines from the statute.
Finally, there is permanent alimony. In Florida, if you were married for more than 17 years you will be paying or receiving permanent alimony if there is a significant dichotomy in your incomes. But, if you’ve been married for 17 years, you probably are relatively close to retirement age. In Florida at age 65 you are entitled to modify or terminate alimony.
This is not simple! A divorce in Naples FL could include none to all of these kinds of alimony at the same time. If facing an alimony claim or asking for alimony get a divorce attorney in Naples, Florida.
In all considerations of alimony as described above, the first consideration is the payor’s ability to pay. A spouse may very well need support to go back to school, get back on their feet, and live the lifestyle they were living before the divorce in Chicago or Naples but if the other spouse has no ability to pay, they shall not be required to pay. This is why it is so important to have a divorce attorney in Naples, Florida. You must keep in mind your legal abilities as well as your legal obligations and adequately communicate those to the court before the system takes over.
In both Illinois and Florida, alimony orders shall be observed with the force of law. Alimony orders must be complied with or the courts can enforce compliance via a separate court order that can garnish wages, bank accounts or issue a civil writ that is essentially an arrest warrant.
Division of Assets and Debts in Naples, Florida vs. Chicago, lllinois divorces
Marital assets and debts work the same in both, a divorce in Chicago and Florida divorces. If you accumulated the asset or the debt during the marriage, it’s marital and thus divisible in the divorce.
The exception to this rule is if the asset was a gift from an outside party. Then the asset is non-marital and thus non-divisible with a divorce in Chicago.
If both parties names become associated with a non-marital debt or asset (example: refinancing a house) then the debt and asset becomes non-marital.
As you’ve read so far, in one state things will be very specific in a divorce in Chicago while in another state the rule will be really loosey-goosey. Division of assets and debts is no exception.
Florida requires that all marital debts and assets be divided 50/50. A Florida court is obligated to explain why it did not divide the assets 50/50 if the court did not, in fact, do so.
This makes the definition of what is a marital asset or debt all the more important in Florida because once an asset is declared “marital” it must be divided 50/50. There is no negotiating, really. Even an award of a whole marital asset to one party must be equalized with an award of a similarly valued marital asset to the other party.
Illinois divides assets “equitably” which means “fairly” but really means whatever the judge wants it to mean. This creates enormous wiggle room which often results in more practical settlements like, “I keep the house and you keep the 401(k).” The more variance that the law allows the more important it is to have a Chicago divorce lawyer who can work at the margins to have that variance work for you for your divorce in Chicago.
The difference between the two states’ rules creates a very stark dichotomy for younger divorcees: student loan debts get divided in Florida. In Illinois, there is no statute or case law, at this time, regarding student loans debts. Most Illinois judges say, “All the information you learned is in your head, therefore you are responsible for the debts associated with that information.” After all, this is the reasoning behind why you cannot discharge student loans in a bankruptcy. In Florida, student loans are readily divisible and not dischargeable in bankruptcy which makes whoever has the student loans a figurative walking time bomb in the case of divorce in Chicago.
Of course, in both Florida and Illinois, if both parties agree, the court will approve the division of assets and debts so long as the result is not unconscionable. But, why would anyone accept anything less than 50/50 in Florida if a strict accounting and division is required?
So, if I can file my Divorce in either Naples, Florida or Chicago, Illinois, Where Should I file?
Despite all the rules and advantages that I have laid out above, you probably want to file in the state where you have regular access to the court. All these rules really only apply if you cannot agree with your spouse and you have to let the court decide who will get what. If you are in a truly contested divorce your ability to be present in court and active in your case will have a big impact on the result of that case. Especially if you have minor children. It is simply easier for the judge to disappoint the party that is not there.
Beyond your presence, you’ll need to consult a Chicago divorce lawyer and a Divorce Attorney in Naples, Florida to review the facts in your case and suggest a jurisdiction to file in. There are very few of us who practice in both places.
Many spouses take out life insurance plans and list themselves as beneficiaries to pensions, 401k plans, and other retirement benefits. The idea is to provide protection to the spouse and family in the event of a death. A divorce, especially if one of the spouses remarries, dramatically changes the couple’s original estate plan. While the divorce is underway, each spouse has certain rights to retirement accounts and each must meet his or her legal obligations until a divorce settlement is reached.
A time will come when assets get divided. Soon thereafter, the estate plan needs to be revised. Below is a list of four things a divorced spouse should do to get his or her estate plan updated to reflect the end of the marriage. Check back next week for four additional strategies for estate planning during a divorce.
- Update health care proxy: If you listed your former spouse as the person you authorize to make health care decisions for you, you will need to choose a new decision maker.
- Revoke power of attorneys: If you and your spouse have executed powers of attorney, you will need to make changes. You can revoke the power of attorney, execute a new one, and be required to notify your ex-spouse of the revocation.
- Automatic restraining orders: When you file for divorce, an automatic restraining order is placed on your assets. Neither spouse can change beneficiary designations while the divorce is pending absent written agreement.
- Update your will: Remove your current spouse from your will and appoint a new executor or person responsible for distributing your gifts following your death. If you have young children, think about guardianship options and naming an alternate guardian, in the event your former spouse dies or loses custody of the children at a future date.
Contact an Estate Planning Attorney in New Jersey
One of the last things people think about when they are getting a divorce is updating or creating an estate plan. Estate planning is not something you undertake for yourself alone. You do it for your loved ones to help your family after you pass away. Your ex-spouse may no longer be in the picture, so thinking about and updating your estate plan should be an immediate step following your divorce. The Giro Law Firm serves the Bergen County, New Jersey community and surrounding areas. We help individuals with all of their estate planning needs, including the drafting of wills. Make sure that your belongings are left to the people or organizations that you choose with limited headaches and fees for them to receive your gift. A will is not the only thing an estate planning attorney can help with. Talk to an Estate Planning Attorney in New Jersey today about powers of attorney, health care proxies, and Medicaid planning for long term medical care.
The Giro Law Firm is a New Jersey and New York law firm located in Newark, NJ that handles a wide range of legal matters that affect the elderly and disabled populations, including retirement, guardianship, health care, long term care planning, Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, among other legal services. To request a consultation with an Estate Planning and Divorce Attorney New Jersey, click here or call (201) 690-1642.
When you stood in front of friends and family and said, “I do,” you never imagined you’d get to the point that you’d both say, “I don’t.”
But here you are.
Going through a divorce is never easy. It’s painful. It’s difficult.
And, at times, it’s confusing.
You want your divorce to go smoothly. After all, this was the person you thought you’d spend the rest of your life with. But, for whatever reason, it didn’t work out.
You’re not alone. Between 42-45% of couples get divorced in the United States. While some are more difficult than others, an easy divorce is possible.
Take a look at five steps to ensure your divorce falls into the latter category.
1. Deal with Your Emotions First
When you’re going through a divorce, you may experience the five stages of grief. This happens even when you go through an uncontested divorce. The five stages are:
Once you allow all five emotions to run their course, you’ll be mentally and emotionally prepared to start the divorce proceedings. If you try and force the divorce before either one of you is ready, it will only prolong the pain.
If you’re not seeking a marriage counselor, at least speak to a therapist on your own accord. They’ll teach you the tools you need to deal with your divorce in a healthy way.
2. Hire a Lawyer
This is pretty straightforward. A reputable divorce or family attorney will know your rights and respect your wishes at the same time.
This means that while a divorce is all drama on TV and in the movies, your lawyer won’t pressure you to do anything you’re not comfortable doing. If you express your intentions to have an amicable divorce, they’ll do their best to make your divorce as painless as possible.
They’ll explain the legalese in the paperwork and prepare you for the proceeding.
3. Don’t Get Vindictive When Separating Assets
Unless you’re rich and famous, you likely don’t have a prenup. So, your assets are up for grabs. Don’t get vindictive over your property and belongings.
When you’re going through property division during divorce proceedings, be sensible and mature about it. If you have your own vehicle and your name is on your spouse’s car too, you don’t need to take it from them.
The same goes for your house. If you can’t afford the mortgage payment but your spouse can, let them have it.
Your attorney will explain how you can get your name removed from any asset or property you aren’t taking possession of after the divorce.
4. Think About What’s Best for the Children
If you have children, they may very well be the reason your divorce hurts as much as it does. You worry about their pain and how they’ll get through it.
You may even consider trying to make your marriage work because of them. But you should never use children as band-aids for your relationship.
You should also never use them as pawns.
Keep them as separate from the legal aspect of your divorce as possible. Speak to your spouse about custody and child support without them around. When the subject of the kids comes up, stay calm and level-headed.
The more you can work out on your own without the court’s input, the easier your divorce will be.
5. Only Get Advice from Experts
While your family and friends mean well, they’re likely not going to be honest with you. They want to make you feel better and let’s face it — the truth hurts.
They may fuel the fires of bitterness that isn’t even there. They may try to set you up with a new mate when you’re not ready. They may tell you that you’re 100% right and your spouse is completely in the wrong.
None of these people do this out of malice. They say these things because they care about you. But it still doesn’t make it healthy.
If you need to talk to someone or get advice, seek a counselor. If you’re unsure about any of the divorce proceedings, get legal help.
An Easy Divorce is Possible
An easy divorce is definitely possible. The most important thing to remember is that while you may not love this person now, at one point you did.
Try to see past the wrongdoings. Divorce, like marriage, takes two people to make it work.
For more advice and information on divorce, visit our blog.
Every relationship is different. No one can tell you when it is time for a divorce, only the individuals in the relationship understand its complex dynamics, and whether elements of your relationship are beneficial or detrimental for everyone involved. As much as friends, family, or even acquaintances think they know what is good for you, only you can decide when divorce is the right answer. There are questions that you can ask yourself to decide if your relationship is hitting a rough patch or if your marriage has become an unhealthy relationship in need of real change to put your life on a more positive path. If you are experiencing two or more of the 7 signs it is time for a divorce, it may be time to do some serious thinking and potentially separate for good.
1. Who Am I in My Marriage?
In every relationship, there is a level of compromise. As your relationship grows in your marriage, you assume certain roles. As time goes by, the roles that you have assumed in your marriage can slowly change you into a person that you no longer recognize. You become the moneymaker, the child caretaker, the chef, the house cleaner, the person who makes sure that everything stays status quo. Your partner is also going through these transitions – they are natural and inevitable.
In stronger relationships, people grow through this journey of transition together and continue to find balance in their partnership. In other situations, you may begin to grow apart and as you grow apart, you lose touch with whom you were originally and who you were at your core when the relationship began. Your relationship may have changed you to a different person, someone you no longer recognize. This problem is compounded by the fact your partner has become a different person and the reasons you were originally drawn to each other may not exist anymore. You start to sacrifice your time, your beliefs, your passions, and more to address other priorities to sustain the marriage. Then as problems arise, to keep the peace you compromise well beyond your comfort zone and stop standing by your original passions and convictions.
Priorities in your marriage become maintaining your image and lifestyle as a couple and a family. The more the relationship evolves, and busy schedules send you in different directions; the more the individual and mutual passions and feelings get lost and the marriage becomes a business rather than a romantic relationship.
Marriage can be a lonely place when you no longer know whom you are or how you feel. In most cases, you do not realize that you have lost your identity in the marriage until it is too late.
2. I Have Lost Hope That Things Can Change.
When your relationship has gone through strife and turmoil and the solutions you have tried do not seem to fix the problems, you slowly begin to accept that there is no solution to the problems. Soon you may find raising legitimate issues and having open dialogue about problems gives way to just wanting to keep the peace or just the opposite. You may have never fought and now you find yourself fighting all the time with your partner. Regardless of how you handle problems that arise in your relationship – open dialogue, vacations, counseling – one thing becomes a constant you have lost hope that things will ever get better.
You have resigned yourself to accepting things will not improve and you try to make the best of a bad situation by ignoring the fact that you have stopped trying to fix your marriage. You are just trying to survive your marriage.
3. I Have Become Complacent With Unhappiness.
After trying every method to resolve the strife and unhappiness, you have now accepted things will not change and you may not even care if they change. You are now resigned, and you start to look for things to fill the void outside of the marriage. This is usually the time when couples take on new interests to avoid spending time with each other. In some cases, this unhappiness in your relationship can lead to choices that are more destructive. These choices can include purposeful avoidance of your partner or home, more time spent with friends (some you normally would not spend significant time with or have their own agendas), or you may begin abuse drugs or alcohol.
This is also the time in the marriage when couples begin emotional and sometimes physical affairs. Regardless how the affairs begin, the reason they start is because you feel a disconnection with your partner and are no longer trying to fix it. You are trying to keep the business running at any cost. Depending on how unhappy the marriage is, in some cases couples agree to allow each other to date outside of the marriage. The goal is often to keep the business of marriage running even if the romance has died and you are openly agreeing with each other that there is no point to resolving the unhappiness. You both agree that whatever the other person must do to remain happy, and most importantly to keep the business running. You agree to date other people openly or without sharing details.
4. I Am Tired Of Pretending That Everything Is “OK”.
Managing a family, a career, a home, and everything that goes with it can be incredibly taxing and sometimes overwhelming job for anyone. Managing a struggling relationship can make these daily efforts daunting and if not resolved, can lead to anxiety, depression, and worse.
The people in your life that truly know you and care about you can see that you are struggling and want to help but the idea of also having to manage your friends and family along with everything else feels impossible. Rather than take this help, you avoid contact with these people, develop complex stories, excuses, and fabrications just to maintain appearances. The goal is to keep appearances for the sake of your relationship and to keep the business running smoothly.
You now find yourself having to manage your deceptions (including the ones you create for yourself) rather than your relationship. Your real friends and family (the ones who really care about your well-being), will see right through the deception and increase the pressure to resolve your relationship problems. Ultimately, this house of cards you create will inevitably come crashing down and somewhere deep within you; you know it.
Your health and stability are more important than “saving face”. If all else has failed in your relationship, you may have started lying to friends, and family for the sake of keeping up appearances. When you cannot be honest with yourself or your family, then separation from your spouse may be the only answer available to you.
5. I Am Tired Of Resentment And Feeling Angry in My Marriage.
As issues in your marriage build and time passes, you slowly find yourself resentful of your partner and your marriage. You start to lose interest in the relationship and working on problems seems like a burden instead of a positive aspect of your relationship. You find yourself angry with your partner most of the time and you resent that the relationship has taken you from the person you use to be and the enjoyment you had in life. You may start to fantasize about what life would be if you were no longer married. You are less interested in working on the relationship and you see that your partner is also uninterested which can lead to more anger and resentment.
You stop spending time with friends or even argue over certain relationships you have with others as they are a “bad influence” on you. Things that you used to be passionate about fall by the wayside. You may also stop spending time on your relationship, becoming more like roommates than best friends and partners.
You may start to wonder why you are sacrificing yourself for an arrangement that no longer makes you happy. You tell yourself that your feelings and ideas are not important, just the family, and possibly the appearance of familial stability. If you voice your thoughts or feelings, it may lead to tension and fighting, and as a marriage deteriorates, it is easier to suppress your feelings for the “good of the marriage” and to keep the peace.
6. I Realize “Staying For The Kids” Is Unhealthy For Everyone.
When you have problems in your marriage it’s apparent to everyone around you regardless how well you think you hide them. Your children are smarter than you think and quickly notice the behavior of their parents. The idea of putting your children through a divorce sounds like your worst nightmare. You want your children to feel safe, loved, and have every opportunity, but if your home and marriage is filled with tension, fighting or awkward silences you are creating the opposite environment for your children. Unhappy parents cause children to have anxiety and act out in ways that sometimes parents do not notice until it is too late.
The truth is your children know you are unhappy. Your children fear the stress and tension in their parents and begin to mirror their parent’s behavior through avoidance and creating false realities to keep up appearances for their friends and other family members. Your children see the false pretenses and mimic their parent’s behavior in their own lives.
In reality, people do not stay in bad marriages because they believe it is what is best for their children. They stay in bad marriages because they personally do not want to be separated from their kids or feel that a “stable home environment” inherently means mom, dad, and the kids all live under 1 roof. Children want their parents to be happy above all else. If you have been unsuccessful in resolving your marital challenges, it may be time to consider what is truly best for your children.
7. I Am Not Afraid to Acknowledge That My Marriage Did Not Work, and I Am Ready To Move On.
Finally, if you have experienced some or all of these topics, you may have already concluded that it is time to move on and separate. Moving on means choosing a healthy path for your sake and the sake of others including your spouse, family and children. A transition like this is significantly emotional and it’s difficult to fathom the effects of such a significant life change. Your spouse may disagree with the idea of separation and may make it difficult often guilting you into staying. Financial considerations often keep couples together regardless of how unhappy the relationship may be. You may be afraid to tell family and friends out of fear that the separation will hurt them and cause more strife. While you are focused on the needs of your family and planning for your future, you may need legal help to guide you through the complexities of separating from your spouse. There are free resources made available to people who need advice on the first steps of separation from your spouse.
You need to be able to focus on you first so you are able to take care of the rest of your life – especially if you have children. If there is one thing above all that you need to know is that separation and divorce is not failure, and it’s not something you should feel ashamed of. Staying in an unhealthy relationship out of fear is far more detrimental than accepting your marriage did not work, and you are now choosing the healthiest path for everyone involved. In the end, you are doing what is right for you, your spouse and your children. Delaying separation for years can cause more pain and family issues. Resolving the problem sooner than later is the healthiest choice to put everyone on a happier path for a successful future.
Marriage can be a beautiful part of life’s puzzle. It’s also a part of growing up some would say, becoming an adult. It can be one of the most exciting things we humans experience. The courtship, those nervous feelings of butterflies and excitement that don’t come around too often. But, things don’t always remain that way, in fact it’s probably a crap shoot in this day and age to make a marriage work for more than 10 or 15 years. Frankly if you can get a 10-15 year run of marriage and have most of them be decent then you’ve done well. I won’t get into the specifics of why things don’t work out. We’re not here for that today. Today we are here to figure out what to do when the reality of divorce smacks you in the face, and how to go about getting a divorce in California.
- The number one thing you should be focused on when going through any kind of divorce whether good or bad is protecting yourself. Perhaps your spouse it a bit crazy and or has violent tendencies, then you need to keep as much distance during the divorce process as possible
- Maybe you have kids? If this is the case then protecting them is equally as important as protecting yourself. You need to take measures to ensure they are not kidnapped or used as a bargaining tool.
- Next, it’s time to worry about whatever property you may have. The best thing to do is file for a court order preventing your assets from being taken. In the case of tangible assets if you feel up to the challenge you can secure them yourself. Just be careful and diligent.
Now it’s time for the legal stuff. In order to file for divorce in the state of California, you must have been a resident for at least six months. Otherwise, the state won’t accept it. Also, you need to be a resident for three months or more in the county where you are filing.
In California, there are two ways to go about getting a divorce. They are Traditional Dissolution of Marriage and Summary Dissolution of Marriage. As for the summary dissolution, you’ll need to qualify. The summary dissolution is a more amicable split, and it can only be done if there are no kids involved. Which is automatically and easier process. While the traditional dissolution can oftentimes be messy.
When you’re getting a divorce in California you will need to fill out several forms. Then, you need to file them. You can obtain these forms from your local library or online. Forms will vary depending on the type of dissolution you are filing and if you have kids or not.
Divorce is never an easy thing and no one plans for it when they are leaving the altar. However, it is a part of life sometimes and you need to take the necessary steps to protect yourself.
Divorces are frustrating enough as it is. Not only are emotions running high but also you’re dealing with some pretty big decisions.
All of that causes a lot of stress. In fact, divorce ranks second on the Holmes-Raye life stress inventory.
Worrying about what the lawyer will cost, and how you will pay for it, just makes everything worse.
Let’s take a look at some common divorce lawyer costs. The more you understand how the fees work, the less you’ll have to stress about it.
Divorce Lawyer Costs Breakdown
The average cost of a divorce is about $12,800. But the actual cost of your divorce can vary widely
A lot of factors affect this. Uncontested divorces are the cheapest and easiest. Contested divorces are the ones that you see getting ugly and expensive. If there are children involved then you’ll have to tack on child custody lawyer fees as well.
Here we’ll give you a quick explanation of the different types of fees that you may encounter when dealing with a family law attorney.
This is the cost of your initial consultation with your attorney. Some attorneys offer free consultations. Others may charge a flat or hourly rate for the meeting.
It is not common to see contingency fees in family law, but they do appear on occasion. These fees mean that the attorney receives compensation if they win the case. This usually translates to a percentage of the monetary amount awarded.
In child custody and other family law matters, the courts may prohibit lawyers from earning contingency fees.
A flat fee is a very simple fee structure. The lawyer charges a set amount and that’s what you pay. This is most commonly seen in uncontested divorces that appear to be simple from the start.
More commonly, however, divorce attorneys charge hourly rates. This means you will be billed their hourly rate for every hour they spend working on your case.
What makes this a little more confusing is that the hourly rate is not always the same. Some lawyers charge differently for administrative tasks vs going to court.
Attorneys that work in large firms will sometimes hand the more menial tasks to paralegals or less experienced associates. In that case, those hours are typically billed at a cheaper rate.
Sometimes when lawyers refer one another they request a referral fee. This is usually a portion of whatever you end up paying total for the case. The fee, however, must be reasonable and you can decide whether or not to agree to it.
The retainer fee is an upfront set amount that you pay for the attorney to begin working on your case. It’s kind of like making a down payment. As the attorney works on your case, the cost of services is deducted from that amount.
Clear as Mud
Depending on the particulars of your case, you still might find divorce lawyer costs to be as clear as mud. But we hope that this quick explanation of fees and terms commonly used in family law will help you to make sense of it all.
To learn more about everything legal, feel free to visit our blog.
When people tie the knot, the last thing they’d ever have imagined was it ending in divorce. However, married life is not a smooth road, and sometimes the best option is calling it quits, especially if children are involved. If you’re looking to get a divorce, there are various options available. You must take in all the various factors, though, before serving the papers for a divorce, such as how much the divorce will cost and how long before the divorce is final. If you’ve tried everything from marriage counselling to spending time apart, only for your marriage to continue not suiting you and your partner, here’s how to get a divorce in the US.
Why Can a Divorce Take so Long?
Marriage laws and divorce laws are decided on by state governments, which is why getting a divorce can take anything from a matter of months to a couple of years. Issues such as property, debt, custody of children and spousal support can all impact the timeframe of you getting a divorce, and all the factors mentioned above will need to be decided on by the court. If you’re serious about getting a divorce, be prepared for it to take some time.
What are the Different Types of Divorce?
Divorce laws do vary, however, there are three approaches that can be made. They are as follows:
No-fault divorce – No allegations or proof of fault have to be made. Couples can file for a no-fault divorce due to incompatibility, irremediable breakdown of the marriage or irreconcilable differences.
At-fault divorce – This is when one party is taken to be at fault. Various claims can be made such as adultery, inhuman or cruel treatment. An at-fault divorce usually takes longer because the allegations must be proven at a hearing or trial.
Uncontested divorce – This type of divorce is considered the quickest, where it can take from one to a few months. However, both parties must sign the required papers, including a marital settlement agreement. Mediation will be available to help them come to an agreement, which can then be put in front of the judge. Legal advice is not necessary for this type of divorce. However, seeking the help of an Oceanside spousal support attorney will ensure your best interests are taken care of when it comes to being properly supported once the divorce is over.
The Steps Involved in an Uncontested Divorce
First, the person requesting the divorce must file a Summons with the court. The other party in the marriage is also served the Summons. If they agree to the serving of this document and sign an affidavit, the divorce papers can be filed with the court straightaway. They have 20 days in which to reply. Papers are filed with the court clerk’s office in the county where the plaintiff lives. Once this has been done, it is down to the court to finalize the divorce. The time varies but can take from several weeks to a whole year.
If you’re worried about the timescale for your divorce, the best thing will be for you and your spouse to co-operate with each other as much as possible. Being prepared to resolve legal issues together will also help with the expedient timing of the final order.
Spousal support is the fodder of celebrity reality TV shows and popular media, but it’s no longer the juggernaut it was.
In 2010, U.S. taxpayers claimed only wrote off $10 billion in alimony from a total of $142.892 billion in reported taxes. Alimony is grossly underreported on taxes, but even if those figures were correct, $10 billion in alimony payments is equivalent to only 0.069% of all income reported.
When you factor in the high divorce rate, it becomes clear that alimony isn’t a reality for many divorced couples.
Still, alimony remains a cause for concern among those considering divorce. The concern is in part because it’s poorly understood.
The legal terms alimony and spousal support are both used to describe maintenance payments paid from one spouse to another after the end of a marriage. But what’s the difference between alimony vs spousal support?
Keep reading, and we’ll share everything you need to know about alimony and who needs to pay it.
Alimony vs Spousal Support: What’s the Difference?
Is there a difference between alimony vs spousal support?
The short answer is no. Here’s how they differ:
What Is Alimony?
Alimony is a dated legal term that refers to “a husband’s or wife’s provision for a spouse after separation or divorce.” Simply put, it’s a maintenance payment. It has origins in 17th century English and is derived from the Latin word alimonia, which means nutriment.
Spousal support is a gender-neutral term that refers to “payment for support of an ex-spouse (or a spouse while a divorce is pending) ordered by the court.”
Related read: How much do attorneys charge? Visit AttorneyFee to compare how much do different attorneys in your area charge for the same legal service.
Why Switch the Words?
Alimony remains the most popularly used word when referring to maintenance payments between ex-spouses, but the term spousal support continues to grow in popularity.
The state of California began using “spousal support” as part of a system of non-confrontational language. It since spread to other parts of the country.
Spousal support is a more positive term with fewer negative connotations compared to the long history of alimony. Changes in the language of divorce proceedings became more important as divorce laws in the United States shifted.
For example, the introduction of the no-fault divorce in 1970 changed the landscape of divorce dramatically. No longer did spouses need to prove abuse or adultery to end their marriage. The State no longer saw reason to force two people to remain in a marriage when they did not want to be in a marriage.
In a no-fault divorce, there is no need for the filing spouse to prove that the end of the marriage is the other spouse’s fault. Any legal reason recognized by the state is available as grounds for divorce.
When two married people legally end their marriage using a no-fault divorce, they may say their marriage is dissolved. The process may be referred to as the “dissolution of marriage.”
Spousal Support Is Evolving
The language used to discuss payments made between former spouses after divorce isn’t the only thing changing. Our whole system is experiencing reform.
Popular belief about the alimony system remains skewed towards men paying women at the end of the marriage. Numbers reflect this perception: the 2010 census showed 3% of all 400,000 recipients are men. Three percent is a dramatic uptick from the 2000 figure when only 0.5% of alimony recipients were men.
While only 3% of alimony recipients are men, 40% of today’s households feature a female breadwinner. Though, anecdotal evidence and cultural attitudes play a role: judges are less likely to award spousal support to a man, but divorce attorneys also suggest men are less likely to ask for it.
Recently, more women are asked by the courts to pay alimony to their former partners when the woman was the primary breadwinner in the relationship.
Gender Roles Aren’t the Only Thing Evolving
Out of the two post-dissolution payments – child support and spousal support – child support is far more common than spousal support.
Even in the 1960s, only 25% of divorce cases mandated an alimony payment. Today, the figure averages at 10% with it dipping below the mark in some cases.
Now that women are asked to pay alimony more often, the case against maintenance is once again reopened. For anti-spousal support advocates, it’s unfair for men just as it’s unfair for women.
The concept of permanent alimony draws particular ire from both sides. Permanent alimony requires sending a check to the ex-spouse until their death.
As a result, divorced breadwinners are fighting back. Today, alimony is unlikely to be awarded without first being fought by a costly legal battle
Some states are also in the process of changing their alimony laws. Kansas, Massachusetts, and Texas all restrict alimony and support cases to a period where the money is used to help the lower-earning spouse get on track financially or to send them to school.
It recognizes that creating two new households out of one is financially costly and that both should have the opportunity to maintain living standards, particularly when the two former spouses intend to co-parent.
These states suggest that everyone can work, and so they should earn their own money after the divorce.
Some exceptions are included. Long-term spousal support is still sometimes available to couples divorcing in their retirement years or when the lower-earning spouse is disabled.
Additional changes in law attempt to make the system fairer for the paying spouse. For example, New York brought in new spousal support laws in 2016 that limited payments according to the duration of a marriage. It also restricts a court’s ability to set maintenance amounts according to future earning potential, which prevents alimony payments from growing as the workers’ earnings do.
When Might I Have to Pay Spousal Support?
Spousal support isn’t as universal as the media makes it sound. If you live in a state that’s recently reformed its alimony laws, it’s likely you’ll need to fight for alimony payments.
To understand when spousal support becomes relevant in a case, let’s return to the purpose of alimony. Alimony isn’t a reward for marrying a high earner or a consolation prize for a divorce.
Alimony exists to limit the economic effects of divorce for lower-earning spouses and avoid unfair circumstances. It exists so that if one spouse quit their job to care for children, they aren’t left out on the street when they get a divorce.
The purpose of alimony is to give the lower-earning spouse time to gain the skills and employment they need to maintain their standard of living.
Alimony amounts used to be determined by what the high-earning spouse brought home, but thanks to the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act, judges now look at:
- Age and physical, emotional, and condition of each spouse
- Length of time support is sought for
- Standard of living when they were married
- Length of the marriage contract
- Ability to pay
Awards vary by state and by the court, but if you earn significantly more than your spouse and you’re unwilling to help them set up a new household without court-mandated payments, then you may be sued for spousal support. To calculate your alimony in NJ here is your Alimony calculator NJ
What If My Ex-Spouse Was Abusive?
If you’re divorcing from an abusive spouse, things change.
Because of the change in attitudes about divorce, a no-fault divorce may be your only option in your state. In a no-fault divorce, you can’t cite domestic violence as grounds for divorce. However, you may still introduce it into evidence.
Abuse affects spousal support primarily when the abused spouse was financially abused.
Financial abuse is a type of emotional abuse and it takes many forms, but the underlying intent remains similar in many cases: one spouse uses the couple’s money to prevent the other from leaving. Some signs of abuse include:
- Micromanaging finances
- Cutting off access to liquid acids (taking away debit card, changing online banking passwords, removing names from accounts)
- Preventing a partner from earning money
- Providing a strict “allowance”
- Demanding repayment for household purchases
- Spending money on personal purchases and not providing for joint purchases
When a court sees financially abusive spouses, it often denies any alimony asked of the abused. Some states, like California, directly prevent you from having to pay spousal support to an abusive spouse.
If you’re going through a divorce with an abusive spouse, you may choose a criminal lawyer like The Benari Law Group
Do I Have to Pay Spousal Support?
If a judge mandates spousal support, you must pay for it.
However, spousal support doesn’t come with the same legal teeth as child support. Parents who fail to pay court-ordered child support may see their wages garnished or experience other forms of legal recourse.
The only way to force your ex to pay alimony is by holding them in contempt of court.
Spousal Support Isn’t What You Think
There’s no difference between paying alimony vs spousal support, but the whole concept has evolved significantly over the years. You’re less likely than ever to be on the hook for your ex’s finances compared to a generation ago, and if you’re a man, you’re more likely to receive support if you’re the low-earning spouse.
Are you seeking spousal support or hoping to get out of your payments? Visit our divorce lawyer directory to learn about your options.
Thinking of getting a divorce? Before you file, there are some things you should know.
A divorce will affect your relationship with your spouse, your finances, your children’s lives, and your future.
If your spouse is on board, filing for divorce is a straightforward process. However, if not, there are a few things you need to do in advance to protect yourself.
To make it a smoother transition, make the necessary preparations before filing. Keep reading to find out what to do when getting a divorce.
1. Discuss Custody Options
If you and your spouse are on the same page, the logistics of filing for divorce are much simpler. You can have a conversation regarding your children if you have any.
But, before that conversation happens you need to decide some things for yourself.
Knowing you may have to share custody, what is your ideal custody schedule? How much time can you ask for with your children? What would be a fair request?
Go over your schedule and your children’s school and extracurricular schedules. Explore how you can share the responsibilities fairly.
2. Find an Attorney
It’s crucial that you find a lawyer you trust and feel comfortable with. You may need to interview multiple attorneys to find the right Salt Lake City divorce lawyer for you.
Inquire about their experience in family law and their outlook on your case. Ensure they understand your goals and are on the same page as you.
Also, pay attention to how much they talk and how much they listen. You need a lawyer who will listen to your concerns and find solutions based on your unique situation.
Attorneys have different fee levels depending on their experience, the city, and the work required in your case. While you shouldn’t sacrifice quality for cost, decide how much you’re willing and able to spend in advance.
Finding an attorney is easy; finding the right one may take some work.
3. Sort Out Your Finances
Before filing, you need to get your finances organized. You’ll need documentation of everything for your case.
Some people make a marital balance sheet to outline all assets and debts. It specifies what you own and what you share with your spouse, and any debts under your name.
Collect your recent pay stubs and income statements. If you have joint bank accounts, don’t close them or withdraw your part of the money without your attorney’s advice.
It’s helpful to run a credit report to see if/how much repairing you’ll need to do.
4. Build Individual Credit
A common challenge facing divorcees is building credit under their own name. They may have existing credit, but it’s tied to their ex-spouse’s.
It’s never to early to start working on this.
Order a credit card in your name. Use it and pay it off in full every month. This is crucial to be able to buy assets and get loans in the future. You can do this long before filing for divorce.
5. Figure Out Where You’ll Live
Unless you need to leave an abusive situation immediately, you might not want to move out of your shared home right away. That’s okay; take this time before filing to decide what you want to do.
Whether you plan on moving or staying, you should continue making mortgage payments so that the judge sees that you’re interested in the property. If you move out and stop making payments, that might signify that you don’t care about this asset and it could potentially be given to your spouse.
Instead, continue to make house payments whether you remain living there or not.
As for where you want to live, you may want to consider proximity to your children’s schools and your work. Do you want to live in this home long after the divorce is finalized? Or start fresh somewhere new?
6. Create a Post-Divorce Budget
It’s never too early to create a rough budget for after the divorce.
You may not know all the exact numbers right away, but you can estimate where possible. You should compile a list of your expenses, including any additional ones from the divorce (spousal support, retainer fees, etc.).
Doing this in advance can help your attorney get you a fair settlement. Knowing how much you need to maintain your quality of life informs how much to ask for.
Creating this budget might result in you realizing that you need to get a second job or sell some assets.
Your life is going to change after the divorce, not in the least your finances. Being prepared will eliminate some of the stress that may come after filing.
7. Find Your Support System
Before you file for divorce, you need to have a support system in place.
Divorce can be an emotional and traumatic life event. You may be excited to be out of the marriage or deeply upset by it. No one would be surprised if you need some extra support.
It’s best to seek support outside of your ex-spouse’s family and friends.
Here are some options for finding support:
- Therapy or counseling
- Community center divorce support groups
- Online forums for divorcees
Be open to talking with acquaintances who have gone through this before. Positive and encouraging influences will make the transition into your new life smoother.
Still Not Sure What to Do When Getting a Divorce?
The filing process can be stressful and tiring, depending on your case. Having the things mentioned above in order before you file will remove some of that stress.
It’s never too early to get organized with your finances and your goals. What is your best possible outcome? What do you want to happen?
Making a plan allows you to focus on something productive.
For more information about what to do when getting a divorce and how to file for divorce, check out our blog.
American marriages have about a 50% survival rate, which means the other half end in divorce.
While divorce can be stressful, it can be even worse when children are involved. No parent wants to put their children through a messy child custody case. Family law battles can be even more painful than the divorce itself.
If you’re reading this article, it’s likely that you want custody of your child. However, there are many types of child custody.
Before you end up in family court, learn more about the types of child custody in the guide below, brought to you by Kirkland Family Law.
Who is allowed to make major life decisions on behalf of the child? This is where legal custody comes in.
This is a common type of custody, and oftentimes, legal custody will be shared jointly. This allows both parents to make decisions for the child, like for their schooling, medical treatment, or religious upbringing.
Unfortunately, unless you have a flawless relationship with your ex-spouse, conflicts can arise from joint child custody. Parents don’t always agree on how a child should be raised. Joint legal custody can get expensive when you need local attorneys to step in and resolve disputes.
Physical custody is exactly what it sounds like – it determines who the child will live with.
Again, this type of child custody can be allowed jointly. That means the child will spend time in each household. It is important to note that joint physical custody does not always mean each parent will have the child exactly 50% of the time.
In fact, having joint physical custody does not necessarily mean you will have joint legal custody. One parent may have the child live with them half-time or part-time, but not be allowed to make major life decisions for the child.
This type of custody is also self-explanatory. Only one parent in the “custodian,” granted full custody of the child, while the only parent may only have visitation rights. In this case, only one parent has legal and physical custody.
This method may be less disruptive than shuttling a child between two households, but family court does not prefer it. In sole custody cases, one parent has extremely limited contact with the child, which can negatively affect their development. Of course, in dangerous cases, this method may be necessary.
Bird’s Nest Custody
Bird’s nest custody is the most unusual and least common form of custody. It involves the child staying in the home, with the parents moving in and out.
Of course, both parents must have another place to stay when they are not in the child’s home. Although it sounds complicated, this arrangement is the most stable for the child.
Help with Child Custody Cases
Understanding the types of child custody is essential to winning your custody case. It will help you articulate what you need from your lawyer, which helps them achieve the result you want.
Custody cases are no walk in the park. You need experienced family lawyers in your corner. If you’ve got questions, use our Law Directory to find someone with answers.