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Barrington divorce attorney When going through a high-net-worth divorce, it is common for one spouse to have far greater financial means than the other. Even in a divorce between spouses of more modest means, one spouse may have been the primary bread-winner of the household. Spousal maintenance exists in order to help a divorcee who may be unable to support themselves or maintain their accustomed lifestyle on their own.

How long will the payments last? Illinois has guidelines and formulas that instruct courts on how to determine whether maintenance should be permanent or temporary and how long the payments should continue if they are temporary.

Temporary Maintenance

Spousal maintenance can be indefinite or temporary, depending on your financial situation and the duration of your marriage. Temporary maintenance may be for a fixed number of years or reviewable. With fixed-term maintenance, Illinois uses a scale that calculates the duration of the payments based on how many years the marriage lasted. For instance, if your marriage lasted for less than five years, the duration of the maintenance payments will be 20 percent of the number of years that you were married. After five years of marriage, the percentage will increase for each one-year interval until it reaches 20 years of marriage. You can also agree to receive maintenance in a lump sum after the divorce is completed.

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How Child Support Can Help Pay for CollegeA parent’s financial responsibility to their child does not always end when the child turns 18. Many children need help to pay for their continuing education after high school, whether that is attending a community college or a four-year university. Because of this, child support payments can continue after a child turns 18 so that both parents are helping pay for college. However, the child support payments will end if you do not take action. You must file a court motion to extend child support for college expenses and explain how much support your child will need from the paying parent.

What Does College Child Support Cover?

Illinois normally uses an income shares table to calculate how much both parents should pay towards child expenses. When continuing child support for college, you need to present the expenses that you expect to pay for your child’s education, such as:

  • Tuition and fees to attend the college
  • Room and board, which can include off-campus housing
  • College application fees
  • Textbooks and other required materials
  • Healthcare coverage
  • Living expenses for when the child is living on their own, even if college is not in session

As a condition for ordering continued child support, the court may require the student to make a good-faith effort to limit expenses. For instance, the child may need to choose the less expensive college when deciding between multiple colleges that will provide equitable opportunities.

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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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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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