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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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Posted on in Divorce

Health Risks for Seniors Who DivorceDivorce can negatively affect the lifestyle of people of any age, but the health consequences are direr for senior citizens. Gray divorce, which is divorce that occurs between spouses age 50 and older, has greatly increased in recent decades, despite other age groups showing modest growth or decline. People’s health natural becomes more fragile as they grow older, and the emotional impact of divorce can worsen their health.

Stress and Depression

Divorcing after a long marriage is stressful and traumatic, even if you know that the divorce is in your best interest. You feel uncertain about your future without your spouse as your companion, and the financial agreement may have unsettled your careful retirement plans. Bad experiences from your marriage may also haunt your thoughts, causing symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder. Prolonged feelings of stress and trauma often cause a deep depression, and it can be difficult to escape the cycle of depression if you are retired and living alone.

Physical Symptoms

Stress and depression can strain your body because of the way your body responds to these emotions. Stress causes your body to release adrenal hormones, which can be harmful if your body does it continuously. Senior citizens are less capable of handling the strain of stress hormones. As a result, stress and depression can increase the risk of:

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Four Strategies for Financial Success in Your Divorce NegotiationsSavvy divorcees view their division of property as a strategic accumulation of assets instead of a struggle to obtain as many valuable properties as possible. Some assets have a potential value that their current value does not reflect. Just as importantly, other properties may be more costly to hold onto than they are worth. You should prepare for your divorce negotiations by identifying goals. Here are four considerations for obtaining long-term financial success from your divorce agreement:

  1. Assess the Future Value of Your Marital Assets: You should use more than a property's current value when calculating an equitable division of property. Some properties can appreciate in value, such as market investments, real estate, and business interests. Identifying these potential growth assets will help you in choosing which assets you want to keep and preventing your spouse from taking advantage of you. You should ask for additional compensation if your spouse wants an asset that may be worth more than its current value.
  2. Balance Risk and Reward: Relying on the growth of your divorce assets may backfire if the assets do not appreciate in value as estimated. Many growth factors are outside of your control, such as the state of the economy and business markets. You should measure an asset’s potential for growth by both its high-end outcome and likelihood of growth. Protect yourself by keeping some marital assets that are certain to maintain their current value.
  3. Include Expenses in Property Valuation: Real estate, such as the marital home, is an enticing marital property because of its value and use. However, it also comes with many expenses, such as property taxes and upkeep. You should evaluate whether keeping a real property is worth the cost. Are you asking for the marital home because you need the home or because you want to keep a valuable property? You can receive several other properties in exchange for your marital home.
  4. Prioritize Your Vital Properties: Some marital properties are more important to you than to your spouse. Maintaining complete ownership of your business protects your primary source of income. Later in your life, you will rely on your retirement benefits to support your living expenses. You may need to give up other marital properties in order to have complete control over these vital assets.

Making a Plan

You should discuss your financial strategy for your divorce with your attorney before you begin your negotiations. A McHenry County divorce attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can help you identify key properties and advise you on how to keep them. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

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How Your Children's School Can Help Them During Your DivorceIt is important to remember that you are not alone when you are trying to help your children adjust to your divorce. Family, friends, and professionals can all play a role in getting your children through the sadness and uncertainty that comes with the sudden change in their lives. Your children’s school can be a vital resource during your divorce. Your children may spend more time with their teachers than with any other adults, outside of yourself and your spouse. With the new school year starting, now is a good time to talk to teachers and counselors at your child’s school about how they can help your child during your divorce.

Teachers

When children are in elementary school, they spend most of the day with one teacher, who is in charge of their education and development. Your child’s teacher should know about the divorce because:

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