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Including Phone Conversations in Your Parenting PlanEach parent’s scheduled time with their children after divorce should not be interrupted by the other parent unless necessary. In some cases, a phone conversation or texting with the children may be appropriate. However, there are situations where these forms of communication may disrupt the existing parenting time schedule. Extensive phone conversations between a parent and child can be included in a parenting schedule to ensure that both parents agree on whether it is appropriate.

When Are Phone Conversations Appropriate?

Some children have trouble adjusting to a two-household living arrangement because it is their first time being away from either parent for an extended period. They may initially benefit from phone calls with the nonresidential parent, though you should ween them off of these calls so that they do not become emotionally dependent on them. There are other situations in which a phone call that is longer than a couple of minutes may be appropriate:

  • When a parent lives a long distance from their children, regular phone calls may be part of their parenting time because it is impractical for them to frequently see each other in person;
  • A phone conversation could also be a substitute for parenting time if the children are on a trip and missing their normal parenting time; and
  • Children should be able to talk to their nonresidential parent in special situations when they have news that they want the other parent to immediately know about.

When Are Phone Conversations Not Appropriate?

Frequent communications or long conversations with a child can aggravate the parent who has the children. You should not interrupt your children’s time with the other parent unless there is an urgent issue that cannot wait until you see them again. Even sending periodic texts to check up on your children is disruptive.

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Divorce Can Hinder Retirement ReadinessPeople who have divorced are more likely to be financially unprepared for their retirements, according to a 2018 study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. The study uses the National Retirement Risk Index, which estimated what percentage of households will be unable to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living. According to the study, households with an adult who has divorced are seven percentage points more likely to be at risk than households that have not experienced divorce. To put the number in context, the Great Recession increased the overall NRRI by nine percentage points. Understanding how divorce affects retirement may help divorcees adjust their retirement plans.

Reasons for Risk

Divorce is often associated with short-term costs, such as legal fees and assets lost in the division of property. However, there are several ways that divorce can hinder your ability to save towards retirement:

  • You must include your retirement plan in the division of property, whether you divide it or give your spouse other assets;
  • You will need more of your income for your daily living expenses, which takes away from the money you save for retirement;
  • Paying child support or spousal maintenance also takes away from your savings;
  • If you earned a majority of your household’s income, you may be in the same tax bracket but without the savings of filing your income taxes as married;
  • Becoming single may limit your credit; and
  • You may not receive full value from selling a property such as your home, depending on market conditions.

These costs of divorce can be a setback in your retirement savings plan. The younger you are when you divorce, the more time you will have to adjust your retirement plan.

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How to Reclaim Your Maiden Name After DivorceMany women going through a divorce must decide whether they will revert to their maiden name if they took their spouse’s last name during the marriage. There may be many factors to consider other than whether they want to continue being identified by their former marriage. Some women in Illinois must weigh whether it is worth their effort or expense to go through the legal process of changing their name. A proposed law awaiting the governor’s signature would simplify the process by getting rid of the newspaper publication requirement.

Changing Your Name

The easiest way to change your last name after a divorce is to request it as part of your divorce agreement. The divorce court will approve the change as long as you are reverting back to your previous name. However, some women are unaware that they can include the request in their agreement or change their mind about keeping their married name after the divorce. The standard petition to change your name in Illinois requires you to publish a notice of your petition in a newspaper within your county. The notice must be published for three consecutive weeks and at least six weeks before your hearing on the petition. The requirement exists in order to prevent identity theft if someone is trying to take another person’s name. Illinois law waives the publication requirement after marriage as long as the petitioner presents their marriage license. The proposed law would create the same exception for divorces if the person is reverting to her maiden name.

Why Would You Keep Your Married Name?

Some divorced women choose not to reclaim their maiden name for personal reasons, such as:

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Four Questions to Ask When Considering Keeping Your Home After DivorceIf someone asks you whether you want to keep your house after a divorce, your initial reaction may be to say “Of, course.” People invest a lot in their marital homes, both financially and emotionally. It may seem overwhelming to lose your home on top of your marriage. Keeping your marital home is just one option during the division of property. In some situations, you may benefit more from letting your spouse keep the house or agreeing to sell it. Here are four key questions that may help you decide what to do with your marital home:

  1. Can You Afford the Home on Your Own?: If you keep the home, you will likely transfer the deed and mortgage to your name only. You will be solely responsible for paying your mortgage, property taxes, utilities, and home maintenance. Spousal maintenance could help you if you qualify, but you will still bear a larger financial burden for the home than when you were married. You must assess your income and other assets to determine whether you can afford those expenses.
  2. What Will You Give Up for the Home?: Illinois equitably divides marital properties between spouses during a divorce. If you receive the marital home, you will need to give your spouse other marital properties of similar value. Real estate is often the most valuable property in a divorce. You must decide whether keeping the home is worth the other marital properties you will lose in exchange. Selling a home is the only way to equally divide its value between you both.
  3. How Valuable Is Your Home?: Owning a home is an investment that can change in value. During the divorce, you will assess the value of your home as if you were preparing to sell it. The reputation of your neighborhood and the condition of the home will both affect the value. Housing market conditions will also play an important factor. It may not make sense to sell your home if you are unlikely to receive full value for it.
  4. Do You Need a Home of That Size?: Keeping a family home is most practical when your children are living with you. They need space and may benefit from staying in a familiar home. A family home may be more than you need if you will be living alone. You could save money by selling your home and using the proceeds to purchase a downsized home.

Contact a McHenry County Divorce Lawyer

What to do with your marital home is one of the most important property decisions you must make during a divorce. A Crystal Lake, Illinois, divorce attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can assess your financial situation to help you make an informed decision. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

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Should Divorced Parents Share a Child’s Birthday Party?A child’s birthday is a special event for the entire family, but divorced parents are often unsure whether they should still celebrate it together. Parents want their child to enjoy the party, and tension between the divorced parents could ruin the event. You should each have your own birthday party for your child if you have a hostile relationship with your co-parent. A parenting plan can determine which of you hosts the child on his or her birthday each year, and the other parent can hold a celebration on another day. If your relationship is amicable, you should still consider whether a shared celebration would be best for your child:

  1. What Does Your Child Want?: Do not assume that your child would prefer you both at the same celebration. Seeing you together after the divorce may be uncomfortable, and your child may be excited to have two birthday parties. If old enough to decide, you should ask your child what he or she would prefer. Make sure you do not frame the question as choosing between parents. Present it as two equally fun options.
  2. Could Your Child Misinterpret You Being Together?: A younger child may have difficulty understanding why you chose to divorce and whether it is permanent. Celebrating a birthday as a family may give him or her false hope that you are getting back together. It may be better for your child to have separate birthday parties during the first few years after your divorce so as not to confuse him or her about your relationship.
  3. Do You Get Along with Your Former In-Laws?: It is common for your extended family to want to participate in birthday celebrations, particularly with younger children. You may have an amicable relationship with your co-parent, but your relationship with his or her parents may be different. You should also consider whether your own family gets along with your co-parent and his or her family. It may be best to keep the families separate, whether that means having separate parties or limiting the family members who can attend.
  4. Where Will You Hold the Party?: It could be awkward to attend a party at your co-parent’s home or to host your co-parent at your own home. A simple solution would be to pick a neutral site for the party, such as a park, restaurant, or recreational facility.

Contact a McHenry County Divorce Attorney

It is important to continue to celebrate special events with your children, but fitting it into your parenting schedule can be difficult. A Crystal Lake, Illinois, divorce attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can create a schedule that allows you to spend holidays and birthdays with your children. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

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