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Kane County divorce lawyersOver the last few years, the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) has reported that a solid quarter of its members are seeing an uptick in disputes over the custody of a family pet during divorce proceedings. While pets are often legally classified as property, pet owners know better. They are real, genuine members of the family who give love and affection and ask for very little in return. However, if your divorce goes badly, or if both you and your spouse have strong feelings about your pet, you may wind up in a difficult battle over your furry friend.

Property Law Applied to Pets

Despite your very strong feelings on the matter, a pet is considered to be property for the purposes of a divorce proceeding. That means that the animal is subject to the agreement you and your spouse reach regarding the division of your property, unless you have established more specific provisions beforehand (such as, for example, in a prenuptial agreement). Courts do, however, recognize that the situation is somewhat unusual, as most property is not sentient nor does it have feelings.

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Kane County divorce attorneysWhen marital assets are discussed, the first things to be divided in divorce are usually homes and vehicles. There is, however, another type of asset that can arguably be more important: insurance policies of any kind, most specifically life insurance. Insurance policies can have significant payouts and can tip the balance in terms of property and asset division.

Child Support and Life Insurance

In Illinois, if you have children, it is not uncommon that a court may ask you and your spouse to maintain life insurance policies on yourselves as both a way to provide for the children in an emergency and a way to secure a child support obligation. The reasoning is not to give the former spouse a payday in the event of your death, but to ensure that your children are adequately provided for. Some former spouses hesitate to do this, but it is almost always the quickest and easiest way to ensure that your children are protected. Also, it is very often the case that the obligation to maintain life insurance results in a slight offset of child support expenses for the paying parent.

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Kane County divorce lawyersIllinois is a state that utilizes the equitable distribution theory of asset division when a couple is divorcing. This means that any assets acquired during the marriage will be divided fairly between the parties, based on a number of factors like future earning potential. However, what many forget is that this is true for marital debts as well. If a debt is incurred during the marriage and classified as marital, the responsibility to repay it may be divided between the parties.

Defining Marital Debts

Not every debt incurred during your marriage will automatically be classified as marital. If you incur a debt related to a non-marital asset, such as a loan related to a non-marital business, it could be held to be a non-marital debt. So, for example, if you purchase a second automobile with income generated from a non-marital business, sign a loan as an individual, and do not list your spouse on the title or the insurance, it is, in theory, a non-marital asset and the loan used to finance it is a non-marital debt.

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Kane County family law attorneysPrenuptial agreements, also called “prenups” or premarital arrangements, are legal contracts that establish the property and financial rights of each spouse should a marriage end in divorce. Prenuptial agreements are a somewhat controversial topic for a number of reasons. Some individuals believe that prenups are only necessary for celebrity weddings or for those people who do not plan on being married for the rest of their lives. They think, why plan for a divorce before the marriage has even begun?

In reality, prenuptial agreements are one of the most responsible things you can do to protect your financial interests. Signing one does not mean that you think the marriage is doomed to fail. Consider it a different way; if you own a car, you must have car insurance. This does not mean that you believe you will crash the car or get into an accident. You are simply planning for the worst while hoping for the best. When it comes to prenuptial agreements, the old adage “better safe than sorry” holds true.

Deciding You Want a Prenup

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Kane County family law attorneyThe lazy days of summer are coming to an end, and many families are preparing for a new school year. Getting back into the swing of school after summer break can be especially chaotic for families who have experienced a major change like a divorce or separation. Who will buy the backpacks? Who will pick up the kids after school? How will parent-teacher communication work? Every situation is different but there are some steps parents can take to help ease the transition from summer to the school year.

  1. Let your child’s teacher know about the family circumstances. If you and your ex have recently separated, you may be unsure how to make sure both parents stay in the loop regarding homework, projects, and special events. Letting the teacher know that your child splits his time between two households helps the teacher accommodate the situation. Make sure the school has both parents’ contact information. Also let the school know if any other adults like step-parents will be picking up the kids after school;
  2. Cooperate with your ex. After a separation, your ex is probably the last person you want to talk to or be around. However, if you share children you will have to communicate about transportation, school vacations, and purchasing school supplies. If there is a lot of tension between you and your ex-spouse, texting or email may be better than face-to-face conversations or phone calls;
  3. Be willing to split costs. Many divorced parents decide to split the costs of school supplies or fees. Decide who will buy what in advance so that your child will be prepared and ready to learn on the first day. Keep in mind that having duplicates of certain items is not a bad thing, especially if your child will be working on school projects and homework in two homes;
  4. Attend parent-teacher conferences and meetings together. Even though you and your ex are no longer together, you are still your child’s parents. Attending meetings together ensures that you are both on the same page about your child’s performance in school. Going together also sets an example of teamwork for your child; and
  5. Use a shared calendar to organize transportation. There are many apps and programs that parents can use to assign drop-off and pick-ups. Apple Calendar and Google Calendar both have a sharing function. Other family-planning apps include Cozi, Two Houses, and OurFamilyWizard are available for mobile devices.

An Attorney Can Provide Guidance

Your family’s transition from summer to school probably will not go perfectly—but that is understandable. Hopefully, with a little flexibility and teamwork you and your child will have a fun and successful school year.

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Wheaton, IL 60189
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We serve clients throughout Kane County, Illinois including St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia, North Aurora, Elgin, Algonquin, Aurora, Barrington Hills, Bartlett, Big Rock, Burlington, Campton Hills, Carpentersville, East Dundee, Elburn, Hampshire, Huntley, Kaneville, Maple Park, Sleepy Hollow, Wayne, West Dundee as well as throughout DuPage County.

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