Family law can be a complicated topic. Spouses who are planning to get a divorce, parents who need to determine how they will share child custody, or other family members who need to address and resolve legal issues in family court will need to understand a variety of different laws and related matters as they work to resolve disputes and put workable solutions in place. At [[title]], we work to educate our clients about the laws that apply in their unique situations, and through our blog, we provide helpful information about topics that may be important to people involved in these types of cases. We wanted to highlight some of our most-read blogs over the past year and provide updates about the issues discussed and the concerns that may affect spouses, parents, children, or other family members.
Child Tax Credits for Divorced or Separated Parents
In one of our most popular blogs, we looked at the Advance Child Tax Credit, which was available to parents for the 2021 tax year. This was a complex topic that affected many divorced parents, and the tax credit allowed parents who could claim children as dependents to receive advance payments between July and December of 2021. However, the law that put this tax credit in place expired at the end of 2021, and it has not been extended. Because of this, the Advance Child Tax Credit is no longer available.
For the tax year of 2022, the Child Tax Credits that parents may claim will return to the amounts used in 2019. While parents were able to claim a credit of $3,600 per dependent child in 2021, this amount is reduced to $2,000 for the 2022 tax year. The Child and Dependent Care Credit, which was increased to $8,000 in 2021, has been lowered to a maximum of $2,100 for 2022.
As was true in previous years, divorced parents will need to be sure tax credits are claimed correctly for their dependent children. Only one parent may claim a child as a dependent and receive a Child Tax Credit. Most of the time, a parent who has the majority of the parenting time with a child will be able to claim that child as a dependent, and they can then claim a tax credit for that child when filing their annual tax return. However, a couple may negotiate other arrangements in their divorce settlement regarding which children may be claimed as dependents by each parent in specific years. These agreements should be followed when filing tax returns, and incorrectly claiming credits for children could result in tax penalties.
Understanding Issues Related to Spousal Support
Another popular blog discussed issues related to spousal support, including when this form of support may be awarded in a divorce and how the amount and duration of support payments are determined. While the laws surrounding spousal maintenance in Illinois have not changed over the past year, it is still important to understand the factors that may affect this issue in a divorce case.
In general, spousal support may be appropriate if one spouse has a much higher income than the other or if one spouse has foregone job opportunities to care for children, manage household responsibilities, or provide assistance to their partner. The court will look at factors such as each party’s age and health, their respective earning potential, their contributions to the marriage, the length of the marriage, and other relevant considerations when deciding whether spousal support should be awarded. Ultimately, the purpose of spousal support is to ensure that both spouses can maintain the same standard of living after their divorce as they enjoyed while married.
It is also important to understand when spousal support may be modified or terminated. Either ex-spouse may request a modification based on changes in their circumstances, such as the loss of a job or an increase or decrease in income. If the spouse who receives support payments gets remarried, or if they begin to cohabitate with a new romantic partner, spousal maintenance will be automatically terminated. Support payments will also end upon the death of either party. By understanding these issues during the divorce process and in the years following the end of a marriage, a couple can make sure they will be able to avoid disputes or other issues that could lead to penalties or financial problems.
Pursuing Divorce to Help Children Avoid Exposure to Conflict
There are many situations where parents who have encountered relationship difficulties may choose to remain married “for their children.” In one popular blog, we looked at how staying in an unhappy marriage can affect children. Even though parents may believe that avoiding divorce may be preferable, a marriage that is not working is likely to lead to increased tension in the home, which can lead to a variety of psychological issues that can impact children’s well-being. To avoid these issues, it may be better for everyone involved if the parents choose to get a divorce.
For parents who are looking to minimize difficulties for their children during the divorce process, mediation can be a good solution. By working together with a neutral mediator to develop a parenting plan, parents can reach agreements that will provide for their children’s best interests. Mediation can encourage parents to cooperate in raising their children in the years to come, communicate with each other about child-related issues in a positive way, and resolve disagreements amicably whenever possible. By understanding that divorce is the best solution for everyone involved and establishing a good co-parenting relationship, parents can make sure they will be able to meet their children’s needs in the years to come.
Avoiding Common Mistakes During the Divorce Process
While the divorce process can be complicated and difficult, those who are going through this process can take steps to end their marriages as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Unfortunately, there are a variety of mistakes that are commonly made by divorcing spouses. These include failing to fully prepare for divorce, attempting to hide marital assets, mishandling debts and other financial issues, refusing to communicate with the other spouse, and exposing children to conflict between parents. By understanding these issues and how to avoid them, spouses can avoid unnecessary delays and expenses as they work to legally dissolve their marriages.
There are a few other potential mistakes that spouses will want to be aware of as they proceed through the divorce process. These include the pursuit of unnecessary conflict and the failure to fully disclose financial matters. Even though divorce will involve strong emotions, and it can be tempting to get caught up in arguments about why a marriage broke down, it is best for spouses to approach the divorce process as dispassionately as possible. By focusing on addressing legal, financial, and practical issues and determining how to move forward successfully, spouses can minimize conflict that may draw out the divorce process. It is also important to make sure all financial information, including records related to income, assets, and debts, are fully disclosed during the discovery phase of a divorce. This will ensure that both spouses have all the information needed to make decisions about issues such as property division and spousal support.
Addressing Infidelity During Divorce
Many divorces occur because a spouse committed adultery and engaged in an extramarital affair. This can be incredibly hurtful for the other spouse, and during the divorce process, a person who has been wronged may believe that this issue should be addressed. In one popular blog, we looked at how infidelity may affect a divorce. Even though this may seem to be a major issue that a couple will need to address, there are only a few situations where it may play a role in divorce, including when a spouse dissipated marital assets while committing adultery or where their extramarital relationship may affect their ability to care for their children.
Spouses may also wonder whether infidelity will affect decisions about spousal support. That is, can a person who committed adultery be penalized by being required to pay support to the other spouse? In Illinois, decisions about spousal maintenance are made “without regard to marital misconduct,” so infidelity will not be a factor when determining whether spousal support should be awarded. However, if a couple had a prenuptial agreement that stated that spousal support will or will not be paid if the marriage ends due to infidelity, the terms of this agreement will likely be upheld during the divorce process.
Understanding When a Divorce Decree Can Be Modified
One issue that will often affect divorced spouses involves changes in their lives that may require modifications to a divorce decree or judgment. This may be a concern in cases where either party experiences issues that affect their income and the child support or spousal support they pay or receive. In other situations, modifications to child custody or parenting time may be appropriate based on the desires of parents or children or plans for parental relocation.
It is important to understand that in most cases, a modification will only be approved if there has been a substantial change in circumstances. The loss of a job, an illness that has led to increased medical expenses, or a disability that has prevented a person from working may be a significant enough change to warrant an increase or decrease in the amount of support paid by one spouse to the other. Major changes in the lives of parents or children, such as a marriage to a new spouse or a diagnosis of a condition that will require extensive medical treatment, may be a reason to modify child custody. To ensure that these issues will be addressed correctly, ex-spouses can work with an attorney to petition the court for modifications or respond to modification requests by the other party.
Addressing Financial Deception During Divorce
In many cases, the divorce process can be complicated due to a spouse’s attempts to conceal marital assets, failure to fully disclose financial information, or other types of financial deception. In our blog, we looked at the signs that a spouse is engaging in these types of activities, the ways spouses often attempt to hide income or assets, and how these issues can be uncovered with the help of a forensic accountant.
It is important to ensure that all financial issues are addressed correctly during the divorce process. By fully understanding the income earned by both spouses, the marital assets owned by a couple, the separate assets owned by each spouse, and the debts a couple owes, a person can be sure these matters will be properly addressed in their divorce settlement. Addressing hidden assets or undisclosed financial information after a divorce has been completed can be a complex, expensive, time-consuming process, and one party may struggle to reopen a case and ensure that illegal actions and other financial issues will be accounted for. By working with financial experts during the divorce process to uncover financial deception and ensure that issues related to property division and financial support are handled correctly, spouses can make sure their financial interests will be protected.
Contact Our DuPage County Divorce Lawyers
Divorce can be a difficult process, and family law issues should not be taken lightly. At [[title]], our Elmhurst family law attorneys understand the complexities associated with divorce, child custody, and other related issues, and we work diligently to make sure our clients’ cases are properly handled so that they can achieve positive outcomes. Contact us today at [[phone]] for more information about how we can assist you with your divorce and family law needs.