Divorce Is Not An Ending. It is the Start To Your Next Chapter.
Divorce is hard, yet it’s also a chance to start over. To begin your new life well, there are significant financial and legal issues to consider.
At Mitchell Highlander LLC, we can help you resolve your problems and move forward toward a happier life. Our goal is to put you in the best position possible, legally, financially and emotionally, to get off to a good start in your new life.
Call 618-855-9033 to discuss your specific circumstances. From offices in Maryville, O’Fallon and Greenville, our law firm serves clients in Madison, St. Clair, and Bond Counties.
What Is The Best Way To Handle Your Divorce?
Determining the best way to resolve your divorce depends on your unique circumstances, especially the level of conflict that you have with your spouse.
Our experienced divorce attorneys can protect your interests and help you resolve the full range of issues effectively. This includes:
- Contested versus uncontested divorce
- Dividing marital property and debts
- Child custody, support and parenting time
- Spousal support (also known as maintenance or alimony)
We also handle issues involving unmarried and same-sex couples, and a variety of other legal issues involving marriage and divorce. For example, we regularly help military service members and spouses of service members with family and divorce issues.
Creating A Solution Customized To Your Situation
Most people are unsure about the best way forward in divorce. Our attorneys will sit down one-on-one with you to discuss your legal options.
Right now, you may only have a general idea of what your divorce is going to be like. We’ll work to create a solution customized to your situation and do everything possible to get you to where you would like to be once the divorce is final.
Experienced Counsel For Military Divorce
As a service member or a service member’s spouse, you know the rules of the system you are in differ in so many ways from civilian life.
This is certainly true in military divorce cases, where military-specific processes and procedures come into play.
At Mitchell Highlander LLC, we know how to work with those procedures in order to protect your interests and pursue your goals. From offices in Maryville, Greenville and O’Fallon, near Scott Air Force Base, we have a proven record of effective representation on behalf of service members and their spouses.
Call 618-855-9033 to discuss your specific situation with an experienced Illinois lawyer.
What Is So Different About Military Divorce?
When a military marriage falters, several aspects of service life can affect how divorce proceedings are initiated and resolved. Our law firm has experience handling a full range of these military-specific matters, including:
- Stay on the initiation of civil proceedings — Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) provides for a stay or continuance of 90 days when commencing a divorce or other proceeding against a service member.
- Internal military disciplinary rules — Service members can get into trouble for violating rules within their branch of service, such as by committing adultery or not supporting a spouse.
- Housing allowance — Service members receive a housing allowance based on where they are living. Though this is not taxed, it is considered income for child support or spousal maintenance purposes.
- Pension issues — A civilian spouse’s claim to a pension is a matter of state law. But military-specific issues can arise in determining a service member’s eligibility for a pension and when direct payment can be made through the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS).
Our law firm focuses a key part of its practice on staying current on military-specific issues such as these. We stand ready to help you protect your rights and interests.
Dividing Property Fairly In Divorce
If you are getting divorced, you may be concerned about how your assets and debts will be divided.
At Mitchell Highlander, LLC, you will find proven family law attorneys who can help you meet those challenges. Our firm has provided effective guidance to clients on the division of assets and debts in divorce under Illinois law.
Call 618-855-9033 to arrange a confidential consultation. From offices in Maryville, Greenville and O’Fallon, we serve clients throughout Madison County and the surrounding area.
How Does The Property Division System Work?
Illinois uses a system called equitable distribution to divide property in divorce. In this system, the division of marital property and debts is supposed to be made in just proportions between the two parties. Because Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, this is to be done without regard to the conduct of the parties that led to the divorce.
Equitable division is not necessarily 50-50. Many factors can affect property division such as the length of the marriage and the degree of the contributions of each party to the acquisition and increase in value of marital property.
Property Issues to Consider
Within this system, you have the ability to work out an agreement with your spouse so that the court does not have to do it for you. Our law firm can protect your interests when addressing matters that include:
- Prenuptial agreements — A valid prenuptial agreement will greatly affect how your marital property is divided.
- Nonmarital property versus marital property — Nonmarital property is not subject to equitable division. But, questions can arise about whether property is marital or nonmarital such as when nonmarital funds have been commingled with marital property or transferred into some form of co-ownership.
- What to do about the house — Whether to sell the house or to have one party keep it is a key question in many divorces.
- Pension and retirement accounts — Pension rights are generally fair game for equitable division. In some cases, however, this presumption can be overcome.
- Credit cards and other debts — It isn’t only assets that are to be divided equitably in divorce; debts such as credit cards must be divvied up as well.
Personalizing Our Representation For Your Specific Situation
Ultimately, how you go about dividing your property most effectively depends on your specific situation.
If you and your spouse are able to cooperate with each other, it may be possible to work out an agreement without having the court control the details. Our law firm can provide the needed guidance to make this happen.
But if conflict or complexity makes the issues thorny to resolve, you’ll have to be ready for adversarial litigation. Here, too, we can protect your rights and interests and help you move toward accomplishing your goals.
Making Changes In Your Divorce Order
A divorce judgement carries great weight, providing the terms for the formal conclusion of your marriage. But, if things change after your divorce is final, you or your former spouse may want to change some of the terms.
At Mitchell Highlander LLC, we can help you respond effectively to situations where changed circumstances may affect the terms of a final divorce settlement. With over a decade of proven experience in divorce law, our firm knows how to protect your interests.
Call 618-855-9033 to arrange an initial meeting with an experienced lawyer. From offices in Maryville, Greenville and O’Fallon, we serve clients in Madison, St. Clair, and Bond Counties.
When Can A Divorce Order Be Modified?
Generally, a final division of marital property in a divorce decree cannot be modified.
By showing a substantial change in circumstances, however, it is possible to request modification to several key areas of the decree, including:
- Custody and parenting time (called “allocation of parental responsibilities” in the law)
- Child support
- Spousal maintenance (unless the parties agreed that maintenance would not be modifiable)
- Educational expenses, particularly for post-high school education
Do You And Your Former Spouse Agree On A Change?
Parenting is a dynamic process with the needs of kids always changing. The law allows you and your former spouse to agree on a change to the parenting plan, which can then be formalized with the court.
If you and the other parent don’t agree, it’s a different story. If there is no agreement, a parent has to wait two years before requesting a modification of the allocation of decision-making responsibilities, unless there is child endangerment. The parenting time schedule can be modified at any time as long as there has been a substantial change in circumstances.
See our FAQ on child custody issues for more information on this issue.
Making The Right Choice About Your Divorce Process
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whose decision it was to get divorced. Maybe it was yours, maybe it was your spouse’s, or maybe it was both.
What matters now is how you respond. At Mitchell Highlander, LLC, we can help you decide whether contested divorce or uncontested divorce is best for you. Using more than a decade of experience, our law firm will help you resolve the issues and move forward toward your new life.
Call 618-855-9033 to discuss your specific situation. From offices in Maryville, Greenville and O’Fallon, we help clients in Madison, St. Clair, and Bond Counties.
Which Approach Is Best For You?
Our attorneys are equally committed to providing skilled guidance in your divorce, regardless of whether the proceedings are contested or uncontested:
- Uncontested divorce: If you already know what you want and have agreed to it with the other party, we can put it in writing and make sure everything is complete, accurate and that you understand what you are agreeing to (and what rights you are giving up.)
- Contested divorce: Most divorces are contested. This doesn’t mean it has to be a long, drawn-out court battle. It simply means that at the time of filing, you haven’t yet agreed to all the numerous issues in divorce. These issues can be resolved through mediation, negotiation, or in court, if necessary.
Even with an uncontested divorce, the advice and counsel of a knowledgeable lawyer is important in protecting your interests. We can help with negotiation and with making sure paperwork is completed properly. If you and your spouse are on relatively amicable terms, this can be a highly beneficial way to proceed.
But if you and your spouse are in conflict about significant issues, a contested divorce is what you have to expect. Your attorney can play a key role in safeguarding your position and working to resolve issues in ways that achieve your goals.
Recognizing When To Use Mediation To Resolve Divorce Issues
Mediation can play an important role in resolving divorce issues, giving you the chance to start over and have a new life. But whether and how you use it depends on your specific circumstances — particularly how you get along (or not) with your spouse or former partner.
At Mitchell Highlander LLC, we can guide you effectively in using mediation to take care of divorce issues and move forward.
Call today for a confidential consultation with an experienced lawyer about your specific situation. From offices in Maryville, Greenville and O’Fallon, we serve clients throughout Madison County and the surrounding area.
Is Mediation In Your Best Interest?
Mediation involves meeting with a third-party neutral to try to reach an agreement about contested issues. In divorce cases, it can be a requirement or an opportunity.
You are required to mediate if you and your spouse cannot agree about child custody or a parenting plan. Illinois Supreme Court rules impose this requirement. This means you will have to try to resolve the custody or parenting issue with help from a mediator before proceeding with further litigation.
Mediation can also be an opportunity, however, to come to agreement with your spouse efficiently on less-contentious issues. Any issue can potentially be mediated, including financial matters concerning property division, spousal support or child support.
Take The Right Steps
Even when it is an opportunity, however, you don’t want to be taken advantage of in mediation. Our attorneys have the experience and vigilance to make sure your interests are protected when mediation is involved in any way in a divorce.
Skilled Attorney On Spousal Support Issues
As a former spouse, you may find your finances very stretched. Receiving — or having to pay — spousal support can make a big difference in your life.
At Mitchell Highlander, LLC, we can help you protect your legal interests concerning spousal support issues. Our firm always stays up to date on changes in the law in this area and knows how to protect your interests.
Call 618-855-9033 to discuss your specific situation. From offices in Maryville, Greenville and O’Fallon, we serve clients in Madison County and throughout the surrounding area.
Does Spousal Maintenance Apply In Your Case?
In Illinois, courts may award spousal support (maintenance) in a divorce based on a two-step process.
The first step involves the judge deciding whether support is appropriate. The second is the amount of support.
The judge’s decision on whether support is appropriate is based on several factors. These include length of the marriage, ability to earn income and whether a spouse took time off from work to take care of the kids.
How Much Support Is Called For?
Our attorneys are adept at helping clients work out sensible solutions that take into account Illinois law as applied to specific situations. Whether you are paying spousal support or receiving it, our law firm can guide you to a customized solution that protects your rights and interests.
Once the judge has decided support should be awarded, the amount is supposed to be set by a formula. But this calculation is not merely an easy math equation. Judges have the discretion to go up or down from the guideline amount. Also, it can be tricky to determine exactly how to calculate gross income.
Tax considerations also come into play. For example, starting in 2019 a spouse paying support to a former spouse will not be able to deduct those payments from gross income when filing federal taxes.
Another reason why determining the amount of spousal support isn’t always so straightforward is the interplay between spousal support and child support. Under current Illinois law, the amount of spousal maintenance gets deducted from the net income of the spouse paying it — which may result in less child support for the spouse receiving maintenance.