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Posted on in Divorce

Updating Your Estate Plan After DivorceA divorce changes not only your life but plans you made in the event of your death. You likely named your former spouse as the primary beneficiary or caretaker in your estate planning documents. Once your divorce is final, Illinois law should assume that you no longer intend for your former spouse to receive most of your assets in a will or trust or be responsible for making decisions for you if you are incapacitated. However, you need to update these documents to make your intentions clear to your family:

  1. Wills: In a will, you name the beneficiaries who will receive your assets upon your death. After your divorce, the will treats any inclusion of your former spouse as though he or she has already died. However, your divorce can make your will essentially useless if your former spouse is the only beneficiary named. You should update your will to name new beneficiaries, such as your children, other relatives, or a charitable organization.
  2. Trusts: A trust differs from a will because you place assets in a trust while you are alive. The trustee will distribute those assets to your designated beneficiaries. One of the main benefits of a trust is that it allows your beneficiaries to receive those properties without having to go through probate. Assuming that you have a revocable trust, you can change who will receive the assets that would have gone to your former spouse or remove the assets from the trust.
  3. Power of Attorney: If you become incapacitated or unable to make your own decisions, a power of attorney allows someone else to make decisions on your behalf. A power of attorney for financial lets that person make monetary decisions, while a power of attorney for health care lets that person make decisions regarding your medical treatment. Though your former spouse will no longer have these powers, you need to update these documents to state who you want making these decisions for you.
  4. Child Guardianship: The normal presumption is that one parent will assume complete parental responsibilities for the children if the other parent dies. However, your former spouse may have limited or no parental rights if he or she is a danger to your children. In such a case, you need to name another adult who would be the legal guardian of your children upon your death.

Contact a McHenry County Divorce Attorney

Updating your estate planning documents can be a complicated process. A Crystal Lake, Illinois, divorce attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can help you examine your documents and decide which changes you want to make. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

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A Divorced Parent's Guide to Giving Holiday GiftsReceiving holiday presents is supposed to be an exciting event for your children, but divorce can instead make it stressful. As their parent, you must preserve the joyousness of the tradition. This may mean working with your co-parent or swallowing your pride to keep your children happy. Here are five tips for giving holiday gifts after divorce:

  1. Do Not Make Gift-Giving a Competition: The holidays can become a proxy war between co-parents who try to buy their children’s affection and loyalty through presents. Some parents undermine each other by buying more expensive versions of the same gift. Children can see your motivation for giving the gift and feel pressured to pick a side between parents. You have made giving the present more about yourself than your child.
  2. Try to Coordinate Your Shopping: You may unknowingly buy the same gift for your child as your co-parent because your child has shared the same gift list with both of you. This will make you disappointed and your child sad for hurting your feelings. You can avoid this by talking to your co-parent about who will buy which gifts. If there is a particularly expensive gift, you can agree to share the cost.
  3. Let Your Gifts Travel with Your Child: Some divorced parents give a present with the condition that it must stay at their home. You should allow your children to take their gifts to whichever home they want. Putting conditions on your gift once again makes the gift more about you than your child, who will enjoy the gift more if he or she is free to use it without restriction.
  4. Respect Your Co-Parent’s Wishes: You may disagree with your co-parent about what are appropriate gifts, given your child’s maturity or your co-parent’s values. Do not give your child a gift that you know that your co-parent will disapprove. You will create conflict between your child and your co-parent if your co-parent tries to take the gift away.
  5. Help Your Children with Their Shopping: Your children want to give their own presents to your co-parent but may not be old enough to pick out and pay for them on their own. You may need to help your children with their shopping and pay for gifts. Make sure your children pick out good gifts because it is important to them to make their other parent happy.

Contact a McHenry County divorce attorney

Your time may be the most important gift you can give your children during the holidays. A Crystal Lake, Illinois, divorce attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can help you negotiate your parenting time schedule during your divorce. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

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Should You Co-Own Your Family Business with Your Former Spouse?Dividing a family business in a divorce is difficult if each spouse has equal ownership of the business. To include the business in the division of property, the spouses must:

  • Agree on who will own the business after the divorce;
  • Thoroughly assess the value of the business; and
  • Find other properties to award in exchange for the business.

Spouses can avoid these complications by choosing to remain co-owners of the business after their divorce. This is not a viable option for every divorce but can be mutually beneficial when spouses agree to it.

Valuation Process

Spouses immediately benefit during the divorce negotiations when they both keep ownership of the family business. They do not need to go through the long and complicated valuation process because they are not dividing the business. Neither spouse will have to give up valuable marital properties in exchange for total ownership of the business. The divorce agreement can presume that each spouse will receive equal value from the business as long as they are co-owners. Skipping the business valuation process saves time and money.

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Pets Are More Than Property in Illinois DivorceMarried couples think of pets as being more like family members than property. For a couple without children, a dog or cat could fill the role of a child in a family. However, Illinois divorce law once considered pets to be marital properties more on the level of inanimate objects. A new law enacted at the beginning of 2018 changed that assumption so that pets are treated more like children. Illinois courts now recognize pet custody agreements and consider the well-being of the pet when determining which party will keep it.

Classifying Pets

The law still defines pets as assets but says that a divorce court can award sole or joint ownership of and responsibility for a pet from a marriage. To determine whether the law applies to your pet, you must answer two questions:

  • Is your pet a marital or non-marital property?; and
  • Is your pet a companion animal or service animal?

When you first got the pet can determine whether it is a marital property. A pet may be a non-marital property if one of you owned the pet before the marriage. If you got the pet during your marriage, then it is most likely a marital property. A service animal, such as a seeing-eye dog, will stay with the spouse that it is meant to assist. The law does not define a companion animal, but it is assumed in this case to be any pet that is not a service animal.

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Four Personality Conflicts that Cause DivorceOne key to an enduring marriage is having personality traits the complement each other or can at least coexist. Couples often realize major personality conflicts and end their relationship before they get married. However, some people divorce after years of marriage because their personalities are incompatible. It can take that long for personality conflicts to become irreconcilable differences because:

  • Living together makes it more difficult to ignore personality differences;
  • Conflicting personalities can gradually wear someone out; and
  • Personality traits can grow stronger.

Each personality trait has another trait on the opposite end of the spectrum. Different personalities can complement or conflict with each other, depending on the trait:

  1. Extroversion vs. Introversion: An extrovert can encourage an introvert to be more social, but a relationship works best when the couple has similar levels of extroversion or introversion. An extrovert craves social activity, which an introvert finds exhausting and uncomfortable. An introvert prefers small gatherings and quiet nights at home, which can drive an extrovert stir-crazy. Going against your natural extroversion or introversion for the sake of your spouse can make you feel tense and resentful.
  2. Organized vs. Impulsive: Some people need structure in their lives, while others dislike being tied down by plans. Organized and impulsive people can complement each other. One person may be too rigid in his or her structure, and the other person may be irresponsible because of a lack of structure. However, a couple will grow frustrated with each other if neither person is willing to change his or her organized or impulsive personality.
  3. Agreeableness vs. Dominance: The difference between these personalities is people's abilities to sacrifice what they want to make others happy. A dominant spouse will often dictate what the couple does, with the agreeable spouse consenting to keep the peace. The dominant spouse may not see a problem with this relationship, but the agreeable spouse may become resentful.
  4. Traditional vs. Adventurous: Traditional people like the comfort of familiar places and activities, but adventurers like new experiences. An adventurer can coax a traditional person out of his or her comfort zone, especially when they are a young couple. As they grow older, a traditional person will want a quiet and structured life, which the adventurer may not be content with.

The Future of Your Marriage

Spouses with contrasting personalities can make their marriage work if they can accept their differences. However, divorce allows you to live your preferred lifestyle and find someone else who shares your personality. A McHenry County divorce attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can explain how divorce can help you start a happier life. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

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