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How Planning Can Prevent Financial Mistakes in Your DivorceIt is vital to have a financial plan when you are creating a divorce agreement, including your budget for after the divorce and which assets you most need from your marriage. Your income as a single adult will be lower than what you had as a couple, and some expenses will become your sole responsibility to pay for. A smart divorce agreement will help you transition into a more stable financial situation. Conversely, a poorly planned agreement may leave you at a financial disadvantage. Here are three financial mistakes that can hurt you after your divorce:

  1. Overlooking the Cost of Real Estate: Marital homes and other real estate are among the most valuable properties in a divorce, but they are also among the most expensive to keep. Any residence or building that you own comes with property taxes, utility fees, and maintenance costs. Many homeowners are also still paying the mortgage on their house. Your home or other real properties may be worth keeping after your divorce, but you must include the related costs in your budget.
  2. Not Considering Growth Potential: There are multiple ways of calculating the value of marital properties. One way is to consider whether a property has the potential to increase or decrease in value over time. Common examples include businesses, financial investments, and collectibles. You may regret letting your spouse keep these properties based on their current value, only to watch them increase in value in a couple of years. However, there is also risk involved if properties do not increase in value at the projected rate or decrease in value. The marital properties that you keep in your divorce should be a mix of those with growth potential and value certainty.
  3. Taking Short-Term Gain at a Long-Term Cost: Your immediate financial concern during a divorce is how you will support yourself, but you should still consider your long-term financial goals. Your retirement plan is a good example. You can withdraw money from your plan in order to compensate your spouse for letting you keep a valuable marital property. However, you are taking away from the money you need to support yourself later in life and may incur fees or taxes for making an early withdrawal. The long-term value of some assets can be more important to you than the short-term benefits of selling them.

Contact a Barrington, Illinois, Divorce Lawyer

The division of property is more than trying to get the most valuable assets from your marriage. A Barrington, Illinois, divorce attorney at Joseph M. Lucas & Associates, LLC, will make sure you have a strategy when negotiating your agreement. To schedule a consultation, call 847-381-8700.

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Is a Business Liable If You Slip on the Ice Outside Its Store?Though we hope that the worst of the winter weather is behind us, there is a fair chance that we will see more snow this season. Many people are injured each winter because they slipped and fell on an icy or wet walking surface. While you can do your best to clear the walkways outside your home, you have no control over the conditions of a public place, such as outside a retail store. Your initial reaction after falling in public may be to blame yourself, but it is possible that the property owner is liable for the conditions that caused your fall. To receive personal injury compensation from a retail store, you will need to prove that an unnatural accumulation of ice or snow caused your accident.

Outside the Store

Property owners in Illinois have no legal obligation to remove snow or ice that has naturally accumulated. This means they will likely not be liable if you fall because they did not shovel or put down salt to melt the ice. Property owners are also not liable for tire tracks or footprints that create a slipping or tripping hazard. They are liable if they cause unnatural accumulations of snow or ice outside of their property. Examples of unnatural accumulation include:

  • Removing snow or ice in a way that creates a hazard that would not have existed otherwise
  • A defect in the building or sidewalk that causes snow or ice to accumulate in certain spots, which the property owner knew about and had time to fix

Property owners also have a general obligation to provide a safe means of entering and exiting the store, which includes adequate lighting.

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Adjusting Your Retirement Plan Because of DivorceDivorce can throw your retirement plan out of whack, particularly if you have been investing in your retirement benefits for a long time and are closing in on your target retirement age. The value that your retirement benefits have increased during your marriage is included in your division of property, meaning that your spouse may receive part of your benefits. Younger divorcees have time to make up the retirement money that they lose without having to drastically change their retirement plans. Older divorcees must make important decisions about whether they will adjust their retirement plans.

Ways to Adjustment

People often calculate a specific amount of money to regularly contribute to their retirement plan in order to have enough money to retire by a certain age. Divorce can throw off those calculations by draining money from your retirement savings and decreasing the amount of income you have available to contribute towards retirement. You will be individually responsible for more of your living expenses and may have to pay spousal maintenance and/or child support. There are multiple ways that you can adjust your retirement savings plan after divorce, including:

  • Increasing the percentage of each paycheck that goes into your retirement plan
  • Changing the amount of money that you plan to save by the time you retire
  • Deciding to retire at an older age in order to have more time to save for retirement
  • Making more aggressive investments that have a high risk and reward

Protecting Your Retirement Plan

You may not need to make major adjustments to your retirement plan if you can hold onto most of your retirement assets during your divorce. Protecting your retirement benefits requires planning ahead or being flexible during divorce negotiations. If your spouse has a retirement plan of comparable value to yours, you could agree to each keep your own retirement savings. You can give your spouse other valuable properties, such as your marital home, in exchange for you preserving your retirement plan. A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can state that retirement savings will be defined as nonmarital property.

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Distracted Driving Is More Than Cell PhonesThousands of people in the U.S. die each year and many more are injured due to traffic crashes that involve distracted driving. If you were injured in a vehicle accident, proving that the other driver was distracted should establish their liability in a personal injury lawsuit. People often associate distracted driving with cell phone use because talking or texting while driving will take your hands off the wheel and eyes off the road. States such as Illinois issue traffic tickets to people caught using a handheld digital device while driving. However, the problem of distracted driving goes beyond cell phones.

Cognitive Distractions

All acts of distracted driving share a common trait: they divert your attention away from driving. Talking or texting on your phone is a good example of this because you are concentrating on a conversation you are having with someone. You could be similarly distracted if you are driving while you are:

  • Having a deep discussion with a passenger
  • Talking to someone on a hands-free device
  • Eating or drinking
  • Applying makeup or otherwise grooming yourself
  • Using a touch screen installed in your vehicle

Unlike using handheld digital devices, many of these activities are not traffic violations, even though they could still be dangerous. By reading the police report for your accident, you may see that the other driver admitted to being distracted right before the crash, which is an act of negligence.

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Ways to Divide Parenting Time in Your DivorceDivorced parents share parenting time with each other in most cases because their children benefit from having a strong relationship with both parents after a divorce. For a court to give all of the parenting time to one parent, the other parent would have to be a danger to the children or show complete disinterest in seeing the children. There are many different ways that parents can divide parenting time – from one parent receiving a vast majority of the time to an even split of parenting time. Each division has its own implications for creating a parenting schedule and financial factors, such as child support and taxes.

80-20 and 70-30 Divisions

Illinois law presumes that children benefit the most when one parent has a majority of the parenting time because:

  • The children have a primary residence and neighborhood that they call home.
  • Frequent transportation between parents’ homes is more disruptive.

Giving one parent a majority of the parenting time may be sensible in your situation if one of you is more available to be with the children or more capable in a caretaking role. A 70-30 division of parenting time would work if you want to split your parenting schedule between weekdays and weekends. An 80-20 division would likely have the children spending every other weekend with their nonresidential parent, which may make sense if a parent has a busy work schedule or lives far enough away that seeing the children every week is impractical.

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