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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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Four Types of Personal Documents You Need for Your DivorceYou and your divorce attorney will spend much of the process going over your finances to determine how you will divide them with your spouse. Your attorney needs official documentation to have accurate financial information and know if your spouse is telling the truth during negotiations. While your attorney is skilled at finding these documents, you can save yourself time and legal expense by providing them yourself. You can anticipate that your attorney will need several documents during your initial meetings about your divorce:

  1. Proof of Income: How much money you and your spouse make will determine the division of child support and whether spousal maintenance will be awarded. Copies of your and your spouse’s recent check stubs will show your regular pay and how much money you have earned this year. Recent income tax returns will give a larger picture for the last several years. You may need other financial records if you or your spouse are self-employed, such as check registers and bank statements.
  2. Financial Statements: Speaking of bank statements, you will need statements showing the current balances of financial accounts, both shared and individual. You will divide the money from your joint checking and savings accounts, as well as any joint investments, such as mutual funds, stocks, and bonds. Individual investments, such as retirement accounts, can be subject to division if they were accrued during your marriage. It is also wise to know your spouse’s non-marital financial assets, which are part of their total worth.
  3. Property Records: You should have the contracts for any major properties you purchased during your marriage, such as the deed to your home and the titles of your vehicles. You should also present any statements related to loan payments on these properties, such as your mortgage. These records will help your attorney determine the actual value of these properties and whether one of you has a stronger claim to a property.
  4. Debt Statements: Spouses divide their debts during their divorce, just as they divide their assets. Besides the previously mentioned property loan statements, you should present statements for any other debts, such as credit cards, medical bills, or bank loans.

Contact a McHenry County Divorce Lawyer

Providing all of these documents will give your attorney a head start in preparing for your divorce. At Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, we know that the search for financial information does not stop there. A Crystal Lake, Illinois, divorce attorney will thoroughly search for any hidden or overlooked assets from your marriage. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

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Activities That Distract You From Divorce StressWhen going through a divorce, it is common for the process to consume your thoughts, even when you are supposed to be taking a break. Some divorce anxiety is understandable and shows that you appreciate the importance of the decisions you are making. However, you could be building towards a nervous breakdown if you cannot occasionally distract yourself from that stress. Simply relaxing may not be enough to help you temporarily forget about your divorce. You need to find activities that are both physically and mentally engaging.

Exercise

A fitness routine helps many people treat their daily anxieties. It is tempting to forgo regular exercise because your divorce, work life, and personal life leave you exhausted. However, exercise can benefit you in ways that normal relaxation cannot, such as:

  • Expelling your built-up stress;
  • Making you feel healthier;
  • Releasing endorphins that can improve your mood; and
  • Improving your sleeping.

Exercise comes in many forms besides running on a treadmill or lifting weights. You can join classes for aerobics, yoga, dance, or martial arts. Outdoor activities, such as hiking, cycling or rock climbing, can be a source of fun and exercise. Joining classes or groups will also add a social component to your experience that can help distract you.

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