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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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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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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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Three Questions That Help You Decide on Your Marital HomeIt can be difficult to choose whether you should keep or sell your marital home during a divorce. Keeping a home can be expensive, but selling it would be losing possibly your most valuable asset. To know the right answer to this dilemma, you need to know the right questions. Other aspects of your divorce and your personal life will likely determine whether you should keep your home. Here are three important questions to answer about your marital home:

  1. How Much Would It Cost to Keep the Home?: Keeping your marital home may be impractical if you cannot afford it. Homeowner expenses are more than making mortgage payments. You are also responsible for paying utilities, maintenance, and property taxes. A homeowner tax exemption or spousal maintenance could offset some of the cost. You also must consider what you will be giving up during the divorce in exchange for the home. If your home is the most valuable property from your marriage, your spouse will need to receive assets of similar value. Losing those assets could diminish your ability to afford your home.
  2. How Much Value Would You Receive from Selling the Home?: You should always appraise the value of your marital home as if you were planning to sell it. You need to know your home’s actual value, whether you are selling it or including it in the division of property. Your home’s assessed value will tell you how much money you need to receive in a sale to make selling your home worth it. The housing market and location of your home can affect how much potential buyers are willing to offer for your home. It may be wiser to hold onto your home if you cannot receive acceptable value for it.
  3. Are There Reasons to Keep the Home That Are Not Money-Related?: Finances are not the only consideration when making property decisions during a divorce. Your children may benefit from staying in their family home. You may have a personal history or emotional attachment to the home. Looking for a new home on top of your divorce may be overwhelming. Whatever the reason is, you must weigh whether it is worth the cost of keeping the home.

Contact a Barrington Divorce Lawyer

You should decide whether to keep or sell your home only after you have discussed the consequences of both decisions. A Barrington, Illinois, divorce attorney at Joseph M. Lucas & Associates, LLC, can assess your situation to help you reach a decision. To schedule a consultation, call 847-381-8700.

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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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