debt, Arlington Heights divorce lawyerOften, one of the most challenging aspects of the divorce process is dividing financial assets and obligations from one household into two. Assets such as the marital home, businesses, and retirement accounts may be highly sought after by both spouses, but it is important not to overlook the impact of dividing marital debts. As you prepare for your divorce, you should take a thorough inventory of all of your outstanding payment obligations and consider the best way to distribute them fairly.

What Is Considered Marital Debt in Illinois?

In most cases, any debts incurred by either spouse during the marriage are considered marital debt, whereas debts incurred before the marriage or after a legal separation are considered non-marital. Marital debt can come from loans for which both spouses are listed as borrowers, or loans in the name of one spouse only. Some of the most common forms of marital debt include:

  • Home mortgages, when financing or refinancing has occurred during the marriage, even if only one spouse is listed as the owner
  • Vehicle loans, for cars purchased by either spouse during the marriage
  • Student loans, for continuing education during the marriage, especially if the purpose of the education was to increase the family’s earning potential
  • Business loans, for family businesses and businesses owned by one spouse only
  • Credit card debt, regardless of the name on the account or the spouse who made the associated purchases

All of these marital debts must be distributed equitably during the divorce process, meaning that both spouses will likely continue to have some level of obligation to creditors.

Helpful Debt Division Strategies

In order to prevent a situation in which one or both spouses are disproportionately affected by debt after the divorce, there are some useful strategies you can pursue. If a debt is relatively minor or if you have few payments remaining, you may consider paying off the debt before the divorce is finalized. You can also negotiate with your spouse so that one of you takes on fewer debt obligations while also retaining a smaller portion of your marital assets. For any debts that remain after your divorce, they should be refinanced, if possible, to ensure that the appropriate spouse’s name is listed on the loan so that creditors cannot pursue payment from the other spouse.

Contact an Arlington Heights Divorce Attorney

At the Cosley Law Office, we have over 20 years of experience helping clients with the divorce process, and we can guide you through the challenges of dividing marital assets and debts to ensure that the outcome is fair to you. Contact a Rolling Meadows divorce lawyer today at 847-253-3100 to schedule a free consultation.



Posted in Division of Property, Divorce, Illinois Family Law Attorney | Tagged , , , , , ,

paternity, Arlington Heights family law attorneyIn Illinois, a man who is married or in a civil union with a child’s mother at the time of birth is typically presumed to be the child’s legal father automatically. However, this is not the case for unmarried fathers, regardless of your relationship with the child’s mother. Whether you are already living or cooperating with the child’s mother to care and provide for the child, or the mother is contesting your parental rights, it is important for you to take the necessary steps to establish legal paternity for your sake, and more importantly, for the child’s.

The Benefits of Establishing Paternity in Illinois

Establishing legal paternity has significant benefits for both you and your child. Perhaps the most important benefit for you as the father is that you will have parental rights, meaning that as long as the court has not found you to be an unfit parent, you have the legal standing to request parenting time and parental responsibilities, and you will have a voice when establishing a parenting agreement with the child’s mother. This is especially important if the mother is trying to keep you out of the child’s life, but it is a good idea even if you currently have a civil or romantic relationship with the mother, because it can be difficult to predict how that relationship may change in the future.

Your child will also benefit from establishing paternity, because it ensures that you will be obligated to pay child support and contribute to the child’s daily needs at least until he or she reaches the age of 18. When you are legally confirmed as the father, your child can also be covered under your health insurance benefits, as well as be named as a beneficiary of life insurance, Social Security, and veteran’s benefits. Your child will also be legally entitled to a portion of your assets in the event that you die without a will.

How to Establish Legal Paternity

If you and the child’s mother are in agreement about your involvement in your child’s life, the easiest way to establish paternity is to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form and file it with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. You can do this at the hospital as soon as your child is born and have your name added to the birth certificate, or at any point after the child’s birth. If the mother is contesting your paternity or involvement, you may need to take a DNA test and present your case to the court to obtain an Order of Paternity.

Contact a Rolling Meadows Paternity Lawyer

At the Cosley Law Office, we are committed to helping fathers protect their rights and ensuring that children benefit from the support of both parents. We can guide you through the process of establishing paternity and represent you in court if necessary. Contact an Arlington Heights family law attorney today for a free consultation at 847-253-3100.



Posted in Illinois Family Law Attorney, Paternity | Tagged , , , , , ,

retirement, Arlington Heights divorce attorneyAmong the challenges of getting a divorce, the division of assets may be one of the most difficult, especially for a long marriage in which you and your spouse have accumulated a significant amount of marital assets. Along with physical properties such as homes, vehicles, and furniture, you will likely also need to plan for a division of financial accounts, including your retirement savings. It is important to understand how retirement accounts may be divided in a divorce so that you can make sure your goals stay within reach.

Are Retirement Accounts Considered Marital Property in Illinois?

Contributions to a retirement account made before your marriage are typically considered non-marital assets in Illinois, so you can usually be confident that those funds will remain in your name after your divorce. However, even when a retirement account is in your name alone, contributions made to the account during your marriage will likely be considered marital property. Along with your other marital assets and debts, these retirement savings will be included in the equitable distribution of property between you and your spouse.

What If I Relied On My Spouse For Retirement?

If you were a homemaker or otherwise unemployed for a significant time during your marriage, you may have relied on your spouse’s income and employment to fund your shared retirement savings. Because these retirement accounts are typically considered marital assets, you have a right to pursue your fair share of them in a divorce. Whether the funds are in a 401(k), an IRA, or a pension, you can negotiate with your spouse or pursue a court order requiring that a portion of the funds are either transferred to an account in your name or disbursed to you at the appropriate time..

What If I Was the Primary Provider in My Marriage?

If most or all of the retirement accounts are in your name, you should be prepared for the likelihood that an equitable portion will be awarded to your spouse in the divorce. However, it is important to take action to ensure that funds are not lost unnecessarily during the transfer process. Assets in an IRA can often be transferred to your spouse’s IRA without penalty, but for assets in a 401(k) or pension, you will need to obtain a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) in order to legally transfer the funds to your spouse without incurring income taxes or early withdrawal penalties.

Contact an Arlington Heights Divorce Lawyer

At the Cosley Law Office, we have more than 20 years of experience representing clients in divorce proceedings, and we understand the intricacies of the division of retirement accounts and other assets. We will help you work toward a stable financial future after your divorce. Contact a knowledgeable Rolling Meadows divorce attorney today to schedule a free consultation at 847-253-3100.



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