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Protecting Your Digital Information During DivorceCybersecurity should always be a priority because of the sensitive personal information that we have on our digital devices and on the internet. Think of the damage that someone could do to your life if they had unfettered access to your computer or knew the passwords to your private accounts. If you have not made an effort to strengthen your cybersecurity, during your divorce is a good time to start. Your spouse – not an anonymous hacker – may be the person most interested in accessing your digital information. You cannot rely on the same security methods as during your marriage.

Passwords

You should change the passwords or personal identification numbers for accessing your digital devices and accounts, even if you never shared them with your spouse. There are several reasons to do this:

  • Your spouse may have seen your passwords written on a piece of paper or within a digital file;
  • Your passwords should not include any personal information that your spouse may be able to guess; and
  • Your spouse could have learned an encrypted password if they had access to your digital device.

Knowing your passwords could allow your spouse to spy on your private messages and access your individual financial accounts. It might not even be illegal if you shared a password with them and never changed it. A two-factor authentification process is a simple way to improve your password security. The account will notify you if someone attempts to log in from an unrecognized device and will send an authentification code to your phone or email.

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What Qualifies as a Change of Circumstances When Modifying Child Support?The child support payments that are established during a divorce are meant to be modified as the needs of the children and means of the parents change over time. Illinois allows co-parents to petition to modify their child support agreement every three years or when there has been a significant change of circumstances. How do you define a significant change of circumstances to know whether you qualify for immediate modification? Incomes and expenses can fluctuate frequently, but a court will not grant an immediate modification for minor changes. To modify your child support payments, you will need to prove that the payments are unbalanced or unfair, based on the current circumstances. Here are four changes of circumstances that typically allow immediate modification:

  1. Loss of Employment: A parent losing their job will significantly reduce their income. Unemployment benefits or severance pay are only temporary sources of income, and there is no guarantee that the parent will find a new job with the same pay. A long-term reduction of income will significantly affect the child support income shares formula. The co-parents will have less income available for child support, and the employed parent may need to pay a greater share of the obligation.
  2. Promotion or Raise: Increased income for either parent can allow a change in child support payments. The total child support obligation is based on the combined incomes of the parents and divided according to the parents’ proportionate incomes. Courts allow an immediate modification of child support if the increased income would have changed the family’s standard of living if the parents were still married.
  3. Change in Child Needs: The cost of supporting a child can increase or decrease depending on the child’s age and whether he or she develops special needs. A parent can argue that child support payments should be modified because the actual cost of supporting the child is different than the child support obligation.
  4. Child Becomes an Adult: A financial obligation to a child ends when that child turns 18 or graduates from high school – whichever happens later. The paying parent can call for an immediate reduction in child support if there is one less child that he or she is supporting. However, child support can continue past high school if the child requests help to pay for college.

Contact a Barrington Divorce Attorney

If your request for modification is approved, the court can retroactively change the child support payments, starting from the date when you first filed the petition. A Barrington, Illinois, family law lawyer at Joseph M. Lucas & Associates, LLC, can help you start your petition for child support modification and guide you throughout the process. Schedule a consultation by calling 847-381-8700. 

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Five Keys to a Peaceful Divorce ResolutionThe decision to divorce is often born from a conflict between two people, but the actual process does not need to be tenuous. It is advantageous for you and your spouse to have an amicable divorce because the process will be quicker and you are more likely to be happy with the resulting agreement. The reason for your divorce and each of your personalities can determine whether the process will be peaceful. Infidelity or abuse may make you bitter and defensive towards your spouse. However, you can decide to behave in a way that encourages an amicable divorce:

  1. Be Respectful: You should enter each negotiation session with a spirit of civility and respect. If you are struggling to respect your spouse, you can at least respect the negotiation process. Set the tone for the negotiations by being calm and non-combative, and do not respond if your spouse tries to incite an argument.
  2. Do Not Dwell on Past Mistakes: Talking about the problems in your marriage that led to divorce is a waste of time and can derail your negotiations. You have already decided to divorce. The purpose of your negotiations is to determine how you will separate your lives. Continuing to argue about who was to blame for your divorce is distracting you from your goal.
  3. Choose Your Arguments: There are parts of your divorce that you should be able to quickly agree on, such as who will keep certain properties. However, some divorcees turn every detail of divorce into an argument, which needlessly lengthens the process. Save your arguments for issues that are important to you.
  4. Be Amenable: You will sometimes disagree with your spouse during an amicable divorce but should try to remain reasonable. Understand the give-and-take nature of a negotiation. Giving up one thing in a divorce may allow you to keep another thing that you value more.
  5. Know When to Take a Break: If you find yourself becoming emotional and irrational, suggest pausing the negotiations and returning after you have calmed down. Allowing your emotions to escalate may cause a larger argument that leads to a breakdown in negotiations.

Contact a Barrington Divorce Attorney

A high-conflict divorce can be expensive and leave you with emotional scars after the process is over. An amicable divorce is possible if both sides agree to be civil and willing to cooperate towards a common goal. A Barrington, Illinois, divorce lawyer at Joseph M. Lucas & Associates, LLC, can advise you on the best tactics for having a peaceful divorce. To schedule a consultation, call 847-381-8700.

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Posted on in Divorce

Four Alternatives to Traditional DivorceTo most people, divorce means using negotiations or litigation to settle disputes about the division of marital property and allocation of parental responsibilities. This process describes one form of divorce called a contested divorce. Though contested divorce is the most common form of divorce, it is also the most time-consuming and costly process. Most divorcees use contested divorce because they cannot agree on their divorce terms. However, some divorcees are unaware that there are simpler and more amicable divorce options available to them:

  1. Uncontested Divorce: In an uncontested divorce, both spouses agree on the decision to divorce and the terms of their agreement, without the need for litigation or extensive negotiations. The dissolution of the marriage and approval of the divorce agreement can occur in one court hearing. This is a rare form of divorce because two people who have decided to end their marriage often disagree with each other in some aspect of the divorce.
  2. Joint Simplified Divorce: A joint simplified divorce is similar to an uncontested divorce but more restrictive in what it can cover. A simplified divorce agreement in Illinois cannot include child issues, spousal maintenance, or a total marital property value of more than $50,000. There are also limits on the duration of the marriage and each spouse's annual income.
  3. Mediation: Spouses who are still amicable in talking to each other can use mediation as an alternative to traditional negotiations. The spouses will negotiate directly with each other, while a third-party mediator guides the process. The mediator encourages cooperation between the spouses and answers questions about divorce law. A successful mediation can be quicker and less expensive than a contested divorce.
  4. Collaborative Divorce:  Collaborative law differs from mediation because each party brings his or her own lawyer to the meetings. Unlike traditional divorce negotiations, the spouses and lawyers agree to cordial negotiations. If the collaborative negotiations break down, the lawyers must remove themselves from the case.

Choosing Your Type of Divorce

All four of the listed forms of divorce can be cheaper than a contested divorce but may not be right for your divorce. With an uncontested divorce, you risk overlooking your parental and property rights for the sake of a speedy resolution. Mediation or collaborative law can be a waste of your money if the process fails and you are forced to use litigation. A Barrington, Illinois, divorce attorney at Joseph M. Lucas & Associates, LLC, can help you choose the most effective form of divorce for your case. To schedule a consultation, call 847-381-8700.

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Posted on in Divorce

Understanding Trends in Divorce RatesIt is too early to have complete statistics related to marriage and divorce in the U.S. for 2017. Researchers have had enough time to compile their 2016 data and get a snapshot of what the 2017 data may be. For decades, people in the U.S. have shown increasing social acceptance of divorce. That change would suggest that the number of divorces is increasing, especially among younger people who have grown up in a time when divorce is normal. However, divorce statistics have shown an opposite reaction:

  • The divorce rate in 2016 was a relatively low 3.2 per every 1,000 people, as opposed to a peak of around 5 in the early 1980s; and
  • Divorce among couples age 55 and older, known as gray divorce, is the only age demographic that has increased, having doubled since 1990.

The statistics may initially seem counterintuitive, but additional context can help explain it:

  1. Younger Couples Are Waiting Longer to Marry: Marriages that begin when people are in their late teens or early 20s face obstacles against sustainability. Young couples are less mature and more likely to experience financial hardships that put a strain on their marriages. By waiting until their late 20s or 30s to marry, couples have more stability in their lives and a better understanding of what they want in a relationship.
  2. Marriage Rates Are Down: Many couples are foregoing marriage in favor of cohabitation, even when they have children. These couples do still separate, which may require them to go to court to determine parental responsibilities and child support. However, they will not count towards divorce statistics.
  3. Gender Equality Is on the Rise: Women from previous generations were more likely to marry because they were seeking men to provide for them. Instead, many of them have had profitable careers. Now approaching the age of retirement, these women feel more confident in their ability to support themselves after leaving their marriages.
  4. Generations May View Divorce Differently: The spouses involved in gray divorce today were also part of the married demographic when divorce reached its peak levels in the 1980s. They were the first generation in which divorce became more socially acceptable. Younger generations, who experienced their parents’ divorces during peak years, may be making a greater effort to avoid divorce.

Trends in Divorce

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