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How Does Parental Relocation Work in Illinois?

Whether you’re a parent who wishes to relocate with your child, or you’re paying child support to the custodial parent and have shared child custody, it’s important to know the laws surrounding parental relocation in Illinois. It’s not always necessary for the court to approve a parent’s relocation with their child, however, when it is, the courts consider the following factors before making a decision: 

  • What are the reasons for the move? 
  • How will the move impact the child? 
  • What are the wishes of the child? 
  • Does the other parent object to the move and why? 
  • What kind of relationship does the child have with both parents? 
  • What are the educational opportunities in the current vs. the new location? 
  • Does the child have family close to the new location? 
  • Can the court reasonably allocate parental responsibilities between both parents? 
  • Will the child’s relationship with the other parent be affected and to what degree? 

When is Court Approval Needed to Move with a Child? 

Section 609.2 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) governs parental relocation. According to the IMDMA, court approval isn’t needed in some situations, but in others, it’s a requirement:

  • Whether or not state lines are crossed, court approval isn’t needed if the child lives primarily in Cook County, DuPage County, Lake County, Kane County, or McHenry County and the move is 25 miles or less. 
  • If the child resides in a county not listed above and the move is 50 miles or less, court approval isn’t needed. Court approval is needed, however, if state lines are crossed and the move is 25 miles from the child’s home. 
  • A parent with the majority of parenting time or a shared amount (at least 146 overnights a year) may pursue relocation with the child. 

Does a Parent Have to Give Notice Before Relocating? 

If a parent wishes to relocate with a child and court approval is needed, they must provide a written notice to the other parent at least 60 days prior. This notice of relocation should contain information about the upcoming move, including the date, the new address, and whether the move is temporary or permanent. Once the other parent signs the notice, it must be submitted to the court. 

Failure to give proper notice can result in the court denying the parent permission to move with the child, as well as deeming them liable for the other parent’s associated court costs and attorney fees. 

How Does Moving Out of State Affect Child Support? 

All 50 states have adopted the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), which creates guidelines for the development, enforcement, and modification of child support orders across state borders. 

Prior to the UIFSA, more than one state court could modify an existing child support order for one family, which led to multiple versions of the same court order in different states. With the UIFSA in place, only one child support order can exist at a time. Employers are also required to acknowledge any wage-withholding orders, even if those orders were issued by another state. 

Turn to Conniff Law Offices for Assistance

Are you a divorced parent moving to another part of Illinois or across state lines? Or, did your ex-spouse relocate with your child without giving proper notice? Contact our team of family law experts at Conniff Law Offices, located in Chicago and Oak Park. We can answer any questions you have and provide the knowledgeable guidance you need. 

Posted in Child Custody, Child Support, Child Support Modification, Parentage | Comments Off on How Does Parental Relocation Work in Illinois?

Divorce Around the Holidays

The holiday season is a time to be thankful for all we have, celebrate with friends and family, exchange gifts, and ring in the New Year with a renewed hope. If you’re recently divorced or separated, you probably want to hop on a plane and wait out the holidays alone in a faraway paradise. Every cloud has a silver lining, though, and there are ways to find joy and comfort in the small things this holiday season. Below, you’ll find a few ideas to help you get through the aftermath of a divorce around the holidays. 

Give Yourself Some Space 

Be honest with yourself and others about your emotional state. Take time to process your feelings; journal every day, go for long walks, and if you need to, seek professional help. There’s no shame in taking time to focus on you. If you’re not feeling up to certain festivities, such as office holiday parties or big family meals, don’t force yourself to attend. Instead, do something fun that makes you happy, be it baking cookies or binging your favorite shows. 

Lean on Those You Trust

Supportive people don’t invalidate your feelings — and after a divorce, these are exactly the types of people you should surround yourself with. If being around friends and family puts you at ease, use the holidays as an opportunity to reconnect and get closer to them. Chances are, there’s someone in your circle who can relate to what you’re going through, and may have a few words of advice or wisdom to share.

Create a New Holiday Tradition

After getting divorced, it may be too painful to continue the Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions you had as a family. If you have kids, or even if you’re on your own for the holidays, consider this a fresh start. Create new holiday traditions you’ll enjoy year after year, whether that’s making hot chocolate and decorating the tree, browsing the local winter market, or going for a drive and admiring the light displays. 

Give Back to Your Community 

One of the easiest ways to feel better about yourself is to do something nice for someone else. The holiday season is the season of giving, after all. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, donate gifts to children in need, donate food to a holiday food drive, or volunteer your time at a homeless shelter. There’s no shortage of ways you can help make a difference in the lives of others this year. 

Turn to Conniff Law Offices for Family Legal Support 

As a family law firm in Chicago and Oak Park, the team at Conniff Law Offices knows how difficult a divorce around the holidays can be. We’re here to provide expert legal guidance and compassionate support, whether the divorce is litigated or quick and free from unnecessary strife. If you’re considering taking the first steps toward divorce, contact us to schedule a consultation at one of our offices in Chicago or Oak Park.

Posted in Divorce Litigation, Marriage | Tagged | Comments Off on Divorce Around the Holidays

Imputation of Income in Divorce, Part 1

Part 1 of 2

Spousal maintenance and child support calculations are often a source of conflict and tension in divorce proceedings, but they don’t have to cause such complications. There are many instances where both spouses understand the need for maintenance or child support and will work together to reach a fair and mutually agreeable solution. Unfortunately, there are other cases where one party attempts to evade their support obligation by hiding their income or earning potential. When traditional discovery tools fail to prove the individual’s true income, an argument may be made for the imputation of income.

What is Imputation of Income?

Imputation of income is when a Court attributes a calculated amount of income to a parent, even if the parent does not actually earn that amount. The Court determines the amount of income the parent could make based on their background, education, and specialized competencies. Even if the parent is earning less than the amount determined by the imputation of income, the Court can still use the imputed income as the basis for calculating the amount of maintenance or child support to be paid.

This is the first of two articles discussing the imputation of income. In this article, we will discuss the preliminary discovery steps that must be taken prior to imputing income, as well as the three scenarios whereby a Court will impute income on a child support or maintenance obligor.

When May Income Be Imputed?

Under Illinois law, income may be imputed when there is doubt that the obligor’s reported income is accurate and there is evidence to suggest that the obligor is or can be earning more than they claim. Every court in Illinois has upheld a court’s power to impute income.

For example, in [citation], the Appellate Court summarized the three instances when income may be imputed:

  • “It is well established in Illinois, ‘[i]n order to impute income, a Court must find that one of the following factors applies: (1) the payor is voluntarily unemployed * * *; (2) the payor is attempting to evade a support obligation * * *; or (3) the payor has unreasonably failed to take advantage of an employment opportunity.’”

To Impute, We Must Infer

It sounds simple enough: an imputation of income is based on an inference of earnings or would-be earnings. A Court will not impute income if it does not believe a party is earning, or could be earning, more money than they claim. Producing evidence to support such an inference is the first, and perhaps most important, step in successfully arguing for the imputation of income.

There are several methods through which a child support or maintenance obligor may seek to decrease their obligation, but the two most common practices are:

  1. Hiding income
  2. Failing to seek full employment

Both scenarios are unique and require differing discovery methods. We’ll take a closer look at discovery methods in the next section.

Income Discovery Methods: Hiding Income

There are several ways an individual could attempt to conceal their income, with the two most common methods being money laundering and failure to report cash earnings.

What is Laundering?

  • Laundering is the transfer of illegally obtained money or investments through an outside party to conceal the true source. Often, the outside party will be a friend or family member. The obligor may request that their earnings be directed through the third party source, who in turn will either “loan” money to the obligor or pay for the obligor’s expenses as a “favor.” Either way, the obligor is spending their own money under false pretenses. Typically, money laundering is accomplished when the obligor is a small business owner or works for a family member or friend.

How is Laundered Income Uncovered?

  • Notices to produce and subpoenaed documents will fail to uncover income hidden through laundering; the obligor’s bank records will show very little earned income, and deposits of personal checks can easily be dismissed as a “loan” from a friend or relative. The key is that an obligor’s laundering can only be as effective as their coconspirators are dedicated. The obligee’s attorney should pursue aggressive discovery on all parties who are supposedly “lending” the obligor money, as well as on the obligor themself. All parties involved should be deposed and, to the extent possible, their earnings from employment should be verified. The money should be traced as far back as possible to determine its origins and all alibis should be thoroughly investigated.

What is Failure to Report Cash Earnings?

  • The failure to report cash earnings is less dependent on the cooperation of coconspirators. Many contractors and service employees receive substantial cash income, which they may fail to report.

How are Unreported Cash Earnings Uncovered?

  • The discovery of unreported cash earnings should be focused on the bank records and paystubs of the obligor. They may deposit some of their cash earnings, and their employer may keep records of cash payments made to them. Even if the obligor’s bank records are consistent with their reported earnings and their employer has no records of cash payments, the obligor still must demonstrate a standard of living consistent with their reported earnings. Unlike the money launderer, the cash-hider has no alibi for large monthly expenses or lavish expenditures. Proof of a lifestyle inconsistent with the obligor’s reported earnings will likely cast doubt on their reported income.

Income Discovery Methods: Failure to Seek Full Employment

Unemployment and underemployment are unfortunate and occasionally traumatic parts of life. However, there are many instances in which an obligor may fail to take a higher paying job or seek employment in an attempt to avoid a support obligation.

Child support is based on the net income of the obligor and maintenance is based on a list of factors, including the present and future earnings of both parties. An obligor may seek to reduce or avoid their support obligation by taking a lower-paying job or failing to seek full-time employment during the pendency of their case.

How is the Failure to Seek Full Employment Uncovered?

  • Unlike hiding income, this tactic is much easier to address. The obligee should first request that the obligor maintain a job diary to document their job search. Job diaries are typically accompanied by a requirement that the job seeker applies to a predetermined number of jobs each week and provides detailed information on each application. Where an obligor is underemployed, the obligee should request that the court takes into consideration the obligor’s prior earnings in determining any support obligation.

Seek the Representation of a Divorce Attorney

Arguing for the imputation of income is best accomplished with the representation of an experienced divorce attorney. If you are an obligee who suspects the obligor in your case is not being forthcoming with their income, contact Conniff Law Offices of Chicago and Oak Park to schedule a consultation without delay. Our team will work tirelessly on your behalf to secure the maintenance or child support to which you may be entitled.

Learn More in Part Two

We’ve covered the basic answer to “what is imputation of income?” and discussed the common methods taken by obligors to hide their income or cash earnings. In part two of this series, we will look at some real-life examples of these scenarios and explain how the discovery methods we discussed in part one were vital to successfully arguing for the imputation of income.

 

Read Part 2

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Highlights of The New Tax Law’s Impact on Divorcing Couples

If you have been reading about the new tax laws that are going into effect in 2018, you are not alone. How will these new tax laws affect you and your family in the event of a divorce or separation?

There is no simple answer, and the new law could impact one family differently from another. We would like to take some time to explain as much as we can. If you have further questions, do not hesitate to give us a call or contact our experienced Chicago family law firm online.

Spousal Maintenance (Alimony) Changes

For divorcing or divorced Chicago couples, impacts on spousal maintenance (alimony) are at the forefront when tax season arrives. Here is how the updated law impacts divorces enacted after the law has gone into effect:

  1. Spousal maintenance payments are no longer deductible for divorce agreements executed or modified after December 31, 2018.
  2. The receipt of spousal maintenance is no longer includible in gross income for divorce agreements executed or modified after December 31, 2018.
  3. In other words, effective January 1, 2019, spousal maintenance payment are no longer deductible by the paying spouse or taxable to the receiving spouse, BUT ONLY FOR COUPLES DIVORCING AFTER JANUARY 1, 2019.

For Divorce Agreements Executed or Modified on or Before December 31, 2018:

Chicago and Oak Park readers who were divorced before 2019 should know:

  1. Maintenance and unallocated support payments will still be deductible.
  2. The receipt of maintenance and unallocated support will still be includible in gross income.
  3. Maintenance is not deductible if the parties continue to live in the same residence.

Individual Tax Rate Change

  1. Individual income tax rates have been lowered to 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, and 37%

Exemption, Itemized and Standard Deductions Changes After December 31, 2017

  1. After December 31, 2017, a payee spouse can no longer deduct as a miscellaneous itemized deduction legal fees incurred which are attributable to legal services rendered in securing spousal maintenance.
  2. Only $10,000 ($5,000 for married filing separately) of non-business state and local tax deductions (SALT) may be deducted, including state and local real property taxes, personal property taxes and state and local taxes.
  3. You can only deduct mortgage interest related to new loans up to $750,000 for a first and second home.
  4. You will not be able to deduct home equity interest, even if it is currently existing.
  5. Taxpayers with existing mortgages can continue to deduct interest on a total of $1 million of debt for a first and second home.
  6. The adjusted gross income floor is reduced from 10% to 7.5% for the medical expenses itemized deductions in 2017 and 2018 tax years.
  7. You can no longer deduct moving expense as of December 31, 2017, unless you are an active duty member of the Armed Forces.

    STANDARD DEDUCTIONS

    Tax Filing Status20172018
    Single$6,500$12,000
    Married Filing Separately$6,500$12,000
    Head of Household$9,350$18,000
    Married Filing Jointly$13,000$24,000
  8. Beginning 2018, the standard deduction will be $24,000 for married couples filing joint returns.
  9. Beginning 2018, the standard deduction will be $18,000 for filing as head-of-household.
  10. Beginning 2018, the standard deduction will be $12,000 for all other filers.
  11. Beginning 2018, there are no longer any personal or dependency exemptions.

Individual Tax Deduction and Credits

  1. The new tax law keeps the “additional standard deduction” for people age 65 and over of $1,600 for singles and $1,300 for each married spouse in 2018.
  2. A non-custodial parent cannot qualify for the Earned Income Credit.
  3. A non-custodial parent cannot qualify for the Child Care Credit.
  4. A non-custodial parent cannot file as Head of Household.

Ambiguities In Individual Tax Deductions and Credits

  1. The parent with the most parenting time overnights used to be presumed to have the right to the dependency exemption absent an agreement to the contrary.
  2. It is yet to be determined whether the parent with the most parenting time overnights will be presumed to have the right to the child tax credit.
  3. It is yet to be determined if a court order gives each parent half of the parenting time, whether the IRS will continue not to consider 50/50 custody, and the parent with the most overnights will receive the Earned Income Credit, the Child Tax Credit, and the right to file as Head of Household.

Ambiguities like these are why it is essential to have a qualified family law attorney handling your divorce and a tax professional handling your taxes.

Contact Our Chicago Divorce Lawyers with Questions

The above highlights are not intended to be a comprehensive summary of all the new tax laws. Also, the Oak Park family law attorneys at Conniff Law Offices are not tax lawyers. However, for more information on the impact the new tax laws may have on your divorce, please contact our skilled attorneys at 708-763-0999.

In accord with U.S. Treasury Department regulations we must inform you, unless expressly stated otherwise, that any advice contained in this communication is not intended nor shall be used for the purpose of avoiding tax-related penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or for the promotion, marketing or recommendation to another party of any federal tax transactions or matters set forth herein.

Posted in Divorce Litigation, Family Law | Leave a comment

Prenuptial Agreements vs. Postnuptial Agreements

The most obvious difference between prenuptial vs. postnuptial agreements is when they take place. A prenuptial agreement (also called a prenup) must be made before a couple gets married, while a postnuptial agreement can be drawn up after a couple is already married. This may be the most immediately apparent difference, but it’s certainly not the only one of importance. When deciding whether to get a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement, you should know what can and cannot be included in them. Get the details you need to know with the Chicago and Oak Park family law attorneys from Conniff Law Offices, below.

What is a Prenuptial Agreement?

A prenuptial agreement is an agreement made before a couple gets married that outlines how their assets are to be divided if they were to get divorced or if one spouse were to pass away. Some argue that a prenup is unromantic and can even doom a marriage before it begins, while others believe it to be reasonable and responsible, especially for re-marrying couples who have a lot of individual assets or who have children from previous marriages.

What Can Be Included in a Prenup?

  • – Distinctions between separate and marital property
  • – Protections against the other spouse’s debts
  • – Terms designed to provide for children from previous marriages
  • – Protections designed to keep family property in the family
  • – Protections for estate plans
  • – Instructions on how property should be distributed in the event of a divorce

What Cannot Be Included in a Prenup?

  • – Terms detailing anything illegal
  • – Decisions regarding child support or child custody
  • – Terms that could encourage divorce with financial incentives

What is a Postnuptial Agreement?

Once you are married, your individual assets become shared assets between you and your spouse. A postnuptial agreement is similar to a prenup in that it allows you to create an outline for how those assets should be divided in the event of a divorce or the passing of a spouse, but as we noted above, a postnuptial agreement can be made after you’re already married.

What Can Be Included in a Postnuptial Agreement?

  • – Division of property and assets after divorce
  • – Limitations for spousal support
  • – Division of debts (mortgage loan, credit card debt, etc.)
  • – Instructions for how to handle assets following the death of one spouse

What Cannot Be Included in a Postnuptial Agreement?

  • – Terms for child support and child custody
  • – Terms detailing anything illegal

Some couples opt for a postnuptial agreement simply because, through all of the excitement of planning their marriage, they never considered a prenup but still recognize the value of an agreed-upon division of assets.

What’s the Bottom Line?

Some think that the creation of a prenup or postnuptial agreement invites negativity into a marriage, but this certainly does not have to be true. People and their emotions will inevitably (and naturally) change over time. For some marriages, these changes lead to the realization that the spouses are no longer happy together. If this were to happen, or if one spouse were to pass away, having a prenup or postnup can save you from a great deal of heartache, headache, and financial stress. So rather than viewing such agreements as a “bad omen,” see them as a way to protect both yourself and your spouse if the unfortunate were to occur.

Consult a Family Law Attorney

Conniff Law Offices of Chicago and Oak Park invite those who may be unsure whether a prenup or postnuptial agreement is right for their marriage to contact us for a consultation. An experienced family law attorney from our team can discuss your options in greater depth with you and draft a marital agreement that addresses all of your needs.

Posted in Family Law, Postnuptial Agreements, Prenuptial Agreements | Comments Off on Prenuptial Agreements vs. Postnuptial Agreements

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