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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_386724640.jpgPets of all kinds are often loved and cared for as another member of the family. Children who grow up with a dog or cat in the home may have known that animal their entire lives and feel very attached to it. So when a couple decides to get divorced, the issue of how to manage the family pet can become quite contentious. Spouses often want to know who will get to keep the pet, how such a decision will be made, and who will pay for the expenses of caring for the pet in the future. If you are getting divorced and wondering what will happen to Fido, read on. 

Does Illinois Have Pet “Custody” Laws? 

Illinois law recognizes that people love their pets and want to give them the best possible life, even after divorce. Although pets are technically still considered property under Illinois law, a pet cannot be “divided” the same way another asset, like a bank account, could be divided. 

Pet parents cannot enter into pet custody proceedings quite the same way as they can for children, but the law does distinguish between a dog or cat and a piece of jewelry or a car. If a pet-mom owned Fido before getting married, Fido will likely be considered personal property and will go with her after the divorce. If a couple got Fido during their marriage, he will likely be considered a marital asset and Illinois courts can consider the well-being of Fido when making decisions about who he will belong to or spend time with. However, there are exceptions to these general rules.For example, if one spouse has been responsible for caring for Fido and has a stronger relationship with him than the other spouse, that spouse who cares for Fido will likely get ownership. Pictures, videos, and receipts can all illustrate which spouse cared for a pet and may be useful if a spouse is seeking full ownership. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1724156191.jpgOne of the most damaging parts of divorce is the impact it can have on a family’s finances. Even for two adults without children, splitting a household can cause enormous financial upheaval. While getting divorced does not directly affect things like your credit score or your salary, your financial situation following a divorce is likely to be affected in some surprising ways. Here are four things to watch out for. 

Your Car Insurance Rates May Go Up

Just as getting married can indicate stability and lower your car insurance rates, getting divorced indicates a person with a greater risk profile, leading car insurance companies to raise premiums for divorcees. Although the difference is not likely major, factor this in as you plan your post-divorce finances. 

Your Credit May Suffer Even if You Make Timely Payments 

Whether debt is in your name, your spouse’s name, or both, when it comes time for divorce, creditors will still want their money. As long as a loan was taken out during a marriage and benefited the relationship, it will likely be joint debt and both parties can be given responsibility for paying it off. But beware - if your spouse is supposed to make payments on a joint credit card and does not, your credit score can suffer even if you make your share of the payments on time. 

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chicago divorce lawyerAlthough many divorcing spouses look forward to the finalization of the Illinois divorce process in the hope that they will start a new life and things will be easier, the difficult truth is that for many people, finalizing a divorce is the beginning of challenges – albeit a different set of them. But that does not mean that life after divorce cannot be meaningful and healing. If you are in the final stages of your divorce and are looking to start the near year on a positive note, here are some helpful tips to help you move forward.

Do Not View Your Marriage, Or Yourself, as a Failure

Many divorcees view their marriage as a failure, but there are many things throughout life that do not work out. Rather than beating yourself up, try to understand that divorce happens to many, many people and remember your marriage as one part of a long life.

Ask Yourself What You Learned

Rarely is the breakdown of the relationship the complete responsibility of just one spouse. Even if your spouse engaged in egregious behavior like infidelity or substance abuse, chances are you could still learn a thing or two – even if it is just keeping your eyes wide open for red flags in the future.

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arlington heights divorce lawyerEven as Illinois family law has been updated to reflect the changing and modernizing circumstances many families live in, the law still protects spouses who have stayed out of the workforce to raise children or keep a home. Many couples still choose this path together and, following a divorce, the spouse who gave up employment opportunities to raise children may receive spousal maintenance (alimony) while he or she becomes financially independent. 

Although most people do not willingly take advantage of their spouse, some individuals will deliberately remain employed or underemployed as their spouse financially supports them. This can cause financial problems during a marriage, and it can also pose serious difficulties during divorce. If you are considering divorcing your unemployed spouse, here are some important things you should know. 

Can a Person Be Ordered to Pay Their Spouse’s Attorney’s Fees? 

After the divorce is over, ongoing spousal support payments, if any, will already have been determined. But what about during the divorce? Illinois law allows either spouse to ask a judge to order the other spouse to pay all or part of their attorney fees while the divorce case is ongoing. The lesser-earning spouse may also receive interim or temporary spousal maintenance. Generally, interim maintenance allows economically disadvantaged spouses to exit unhappy or abusive marriages while still having competent legal representation. 

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arlington heights divorce lawyerAccidents, slips and falls, or malfunctioning equipment can seriously harm people while they are at work. When people get injured badly enough that they need medical treatment or lose wages, they often pursue workers’ compensation claims or personal injury settlements and sometimes get a significant amount of money from the party responsible for the injury. 

You may be surprised to learn that, if such an injury occurs while you are married, any compensation can be considered a marital asset - and therefore subject to division if the courts divide property in a divorce. This seems counterintuitive because there is only one spouse who is injured and therefore in need of compensation; nevertheless, Illinois law generally defines any asset obtained during the marriage, including cash settlements or ongoing payments, as a marital asset. 

Disabilities May Be a Factor in the Illinois Property Division Process 

Spouses who have received personal injury settlements or workers’ compensation payments may not have to divide these monies the same way they would divide a cash savings account. Because Illinois is an “equitable distribution” state, many factors need to be taken into account to ensure the division of marital property is fair. 

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