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pets, divorce, Geneva property division attorneyFor many people, pets are as much a part of the family as a child. When a marriage breaks up, it can be tough to decide which spouse the pet is going to live with. There are many emotional and practical factors that go into making such a decision, and courts are not always the best places to decide pet issues.

How the Law Views Pets

Even though pets are an important part of our lives, the law views pets as a type of personal property. Your beloved family dog or cat is the same as the family television or couch as far as the law is concerned. Technically, the pet can be assigned a dollar value and put into one spouse’s column on the property division worksheet. There are no explicit pet custody provisions in the law.

unconscionable, divorce agreement, Geneva divorce lawyerAs you approach the divorce process, you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse may already have most of the details covered. It is not uncommon for a couple to “pre-negotiate,” if you will, regarding the various necessary considerations before the petition for divorce is even filed. For the vast majority of cases, this is very welcome, and a much lower-stress alternative to long, drawn-out courtroom battle, the impact of which may be felt by both parties for years into the future. For some couples, however, their negotiated agreement may not meet the court’s standards, and could be rejected on the grounds of being unconscionable. It is important to understand just what that means so you can be prepared to avoid such a response from the court.

Negotiate with an Understanding of the Law

While you certainly do not need to be an attorney to reach a reasonable agreement with your spouse, it does help to have a basic grasp of what the Illinois divorce laws require. This is especially applicable to concerns for property division, and spousal maintenance. A negotiated agreement does not necessarily need to adhere to each and every provision in the related laws, but understanding what the law considers to be just and equitable is a good place to start. From there, you and your soon-to-be ex can create virtually any type of settlement you wish, as long as it is reasonably fair to both parties and your children.

Posted on in Mediation

mediation, divorce, Geneva divorce attorneyWhenever a case goes to litigation, the involved parties give up great deal of control regarding the situation. While a deal could possibly be brokered by the court, contentiousness and acrimony is much more likely. In addition, court dates are often weeks and months in advance, with very little happening in between. Thus, what could have been a relatively simple divorce has deteriorated into long, drawn-out process causing serious levels of stress and bitterness. For many couples, however, mediation may provide a much more reasonable avenue for reaching a divorce agreement, allowing them to move at their own pace and addressing the issues that matter most.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that involves two—or more, if appropriate—parties and a neutral, third-party facilitator. The parties and the facilitator, known as a mediator, engage in negotiation-oriented discussions aimed at developing a resolution that is agreeable for everyone involved. Mediation is used in a wide variety of legal applications and is very often a part of divorce and family law proceedings. Parties to a mediated divorce may choose to retain their own attorneys, depending on complexity of the case. Some mediators are, in fact, also attorneys, allowing them to address many of the legal issues that may arise during the process.

collaborative divorce, Geneva divorce attorney, divorcing couple, collaborative law, children and divorce, divorce agreementWhen children are involved, a divorce does not just mean the dissolution of a marriage. It also means life changes for an entire family. A divorcing couple may take the position to proceed as civilly as possible. Even if two people decide not to remain married, they most likely still want to do what is best for their children. Collaborative divorce is a more amicable option and is an alternative for those who wish to avoid court when legally ending their marriage.

The process of collaborative divorce requires an agreement with promises of good faith from each party moving forward and an honest disclosure of all paperwork and relevant information needed for a resolution that is beneficial to everyone.

Divorce is commonly associated with feelings of anger, hurt, and resentment, but certain situations allow for collaborative law as an option because both parties choose to set those aside in the interest of saving time and money, as well as preserving their family.

college expenses, divorce negotiations, FAFSA, 529 plan, college savings plan, college savings, divorce agreement, Geneva family law attorney, child custody, marital debt, school expensesThere are several items to negotiate during a divorce and because of this, it is easy to overlook issues that can later turn out to be essential ones. Many divorcing couples with young children do not consider the issue of college expenses and tuition because it seems years away. However, with each passing year, high school graduation dates move closer to reality.

Regardless of the age of your children, make sure you discuss how college expenses will be divided and shared between both you and your ex, and that it is specifically spelled out in the divorce agreement. Otherwise, one parent could end up footing the majority, if not all, of the expense. And it is not just tuition that needs to be agreed on. Remember to also include other expenses such as fees, books, supplies, housing, transportation, and any other expenses incurred by college students.

Whether married or divorced, school-related funds should be placed in a proper account in order to ensure those funds will still be there when the child enters college. A 529 plan is a savings plan that is used strictly for education, and whose earnings are not subject to federal taxes. If college funds are not put in a 529 plan and a married couple splits up, those funds become part of the marital estate and money that was supposed to be for your child’s education could instead be used to pay of marital debt or legal fees.

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