Three Changes to Illinois’ Spousal Maintenance LawThe beginning of 2019 saw an important change for couples looking to include spousal maintenance in their divorce agreements. A federal tax reform law from 2017 eliminated the popular alimony tax deduction. Spousal maintenance payors can no longer claim a tax deduction on their payments for any divorce agreement created starting in 2019. In turn, maintenance recipients are not required to include the payments in their taxable income. The alimony deduction was an incentive for payors to agree to higher maintenance payments, and divorce professionals feared that its elimination would make maintenance negotiations more difficult. States had more than a year to prepare for the elimination of the alimony deduction, and Illinois responded in 2018 with a revision to its spousal maintenance law.

Net Income

There were three major changes to Illinois’ spousal maintenance law. The first was that the formula for determining payments uses net income instead of gross income. Your net income is the money you receive in a paycheck after deductions for taxes and benefits plans. Illinois believes this switch is better at accounting for the tax burden of maintenance payers.

Payment Formula

The next change was to the payment formula:

  • Before 2019, the monthly spousal maintenance payments were 30 percent of the payor’s gross monthly income minus the 20 percent of the recipient’s gross monthly income.
  • Now, the payments are 33.3 percent of the payor’s net monthly income minus 25 percent of the recipient’s net monthly income.

There is the same limit on maintenance payments: the payment amount plus the recipient’s net monthly income cannot exceed 40 percent of the combined net monthly incomes of the recipient and payor.

Duration Formula

Illinois also expanded its formula for determining how long the payor must pay maintenance. The duration of your maintenance payments is a specified percentage of the number of years you were married, with your years of marriage also determining which percentage you would use. Previously, Illinois divided the percentages into five-year intervals, such as 20 percent for people married five or fewer years and 40 percent for people married more than five but fewer than 10 years. Now, each year of marriage after five years has its own percentage. It is 20 percent for marriages that are less than five years and increases by four percentage points each year until year 20, when courts may consider permanent maintenance.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Attorney

If your income is smaller than your spouse’s income, then spousal maintenance payments may be vital to maintaining your familiar standard of living. A Batavia, Illinois, divorce lawyer at Van Larson Law, P.C., will help you negotiate maintenance payments that meet your financial needs. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-879-9090.


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How Important Is Child Preference When Creating a Parenting Plan?During a divorce, a court rules on the allocation of parental responsibilities by considering what is in the best interest of the child. Listening to the child’s preferences is part of understanding their best interest, but courts will not give a child’s preference the same weight in every case. A parenting plan is an important part of creating a structured living environment for children after their parents have separated. Though the parents and the court want the child to be happy with the arrangement, there are times when adults have a better understanding of what is best for the children.

How Child Preference Is Weighed

Children of divorce may have a preference about which parent they will live with for a majority of the time. However, the issue of child preference does not come up in many parenting cases. Some children are uncomfortable choosing sides or admitting that they have a preference. When they do express a preference, the court may give it little or no credence if:

  • The child is not mature enough to explain why they are choosing one parent
  • The preference is clearly not in the child’s best interest
  • One of the parents appears to be manipulating the child’s opinion

Rather than have the child testify in front of a judge, the court may assign a licensed professional to talk with the child and discern their preference without parental interference.

Other Factors

Even when a court acknowledges child preference, it is just one of several factors that a court must consider, including:

  • The parents’ wishes
  • The child’s needs
  • Each parent’s ability to independently care for the children
  • The parents’ individual parenting roles during the marriage
  • The parents’ willingness to cooperate with each other
  • The cost and difficulty of transporting the children between residences
  • The child’s existing school and community connections
  • Whether one of the parents may be a danger to the children

Child preference has the greatest influence on a court’s decision when the other factors equally favor both parents. However, there are many cases in which the other factors point to one parent being in a better position to have a majority of the parenting time.

Contact a Batavia Divorce Attorney

When negotiating a divorce parenting plan, you must remember that your decisions should serve the best interest of your children. A Kane County divorce lawyer at Van Larson Law, P.C., understands that you need time with your children and an active role in making parenting decisions. To schedule a consultation, call 630-879-9090.


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The Differences Between the Property Title and Mortgage with Your Marital HomeExcept in rare circumstances, only one of you will continue to own your marital home after your divorce. The most contentious issue surrounding your marital home will be who will keep it or whether you should sell it and divide the proceeds. If one of you is keeping your house, it is important to complete the agreement by legally transferring ownership and financial responsibility to one person. As the person keeping the home, you do not want your former spouse to have ownership rights over the property. As the person who is giving up the home, you do not want to be liable for mortgage payments on a house that you no longer own.

Property Title

The property title for your house is your ownership interest in the house, which can be full or partial. When you co-own a home with your spouse, both of your names are on the title to show that you each have partial ownership of the house. If your spouse agrees to give you full ownership of your marital home, you will assume your spouse’s ownership interest in the title. A deed is a legal document that transfers a property title to a new owner. Quitclaim deeds are the most common deeds used during Illinois divorce because:

  • It is a quick and relatively simple process; and
  • The recipient knows that the grantor owns the property and has the right to transfer it.

If you complete the deed while you are still married, you should be able to avoid a transfer tax because it is a gift between spouses.


Transferring your portion of the property title to your spouse does not remove you from the mortgage on the house. You could still be liable if your spouse falls behind on mortgage payments, which would hurt your credit. The spouse who keeps the home needs to refinance their mortgage in their name only. Refinancing could be problematic if you have a poor individual credit history or cannot prove that you can afford regular mortgage payments after your divorce. Receiving spousal maintenance could help determine whether you will be able to refinance your mortgage.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Attorney

There are financial consequences to keeping your marital home after a divorce, such as paying your mortgage, property taxes, utility fees, and maintenance. In some situations, it may be better to allow your spouse to keep the home or to sell it. A Batavia, Illinois, divorce lawyer at Van Larson Law, P.C., can help you decide what you should do with your marital home. Call 630-879-9090 to schedule a consultation.


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Four Factors When Seeking a Job After DivorceGetting a divorce may mean having to join the workforce for people who were primarily relying on their spouse for income. For other people who already work, they may need a better paying job to support themselves. Spousal maintenance payments can help a lower-earning spouse maintain the lifestyle that they were accustomed to during their marriage. However, courts often grant maintenance on the condition that the recipient must make a good-faith effort to better their financial situation. There are several factors that you must consider when trying to find a job after your divorce:

  1. Your Career Prospects: Did you previously have a job or career? Some people leave their jobs or do not seek employment in order to focus on their home while their spouse focuses on their career. Having prior experience in a job or training in a career will improve your chances of being hired. People with limited experience are often limited to entry-level jobs that do not require specialized skills.
  2. Your Financial Needs: Besides identifying what jobs you qualify for, you need a target income level based on your budget. How much of your basic living expenses would your income pay for? Between your income and your support payments, will all of your expenses be covered? Does the job have opportunities for advancement and increased pay? Your job search may not be in good faith if you turn down one job to take another job that pays less.
  3. Your Family Needs: If you have children, you must consider how your job may affect your ability to fulfill your parental responsibilities. Would your work hours conflict with your parenting time? Even if you find a job with flexible hours, you may need to modify your parenting schedule. If your new job would require you to relocate with your children, you will need a compelling reason why this relocation is in your children’s best interest, such as it being a superior career opportunity that is not available where you are currently living.
  4. Your Education: More career opportunities may be available to you by completing post-secondary education, whether it is updating your existing job skills or learning a new career. This often means going back to school but could involve vocational training programs. Spousal maintenance payments can support you while you are completing your education. You need to show a clear path to obtaining your degree or certification and what career you will pursue.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Attorney

You need a strong financial foundation from your divorce to support you while you search for your job. A Batavia, Illinois, divorce lawyer at Van Larson Law, P.C., can help you determine your budget and what you need from your marital properties and support payments. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-879-9090.


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Going on Vacation as a Divorced ParentSingle parents need to take the opportunity to go on a vacation with their children, even if the idea seems less exciting after a divorce. Divorced parents see their children less often than when they were married because of the division of parenting time. A trip is an opportunity for the parent to bond with the children and create happy memories. When planning a vacation with your children, there are several factors related to your divorce that you should consider.

Parenting Plan

You do not need to limit your vacation so that it fits within your regular parenting schedule but will need to discuss your vacation plans with your co-parent:

  • Your co-parent has a right to know when your children are going to be out of town;
  • Your co-parent must agree to any deviation in your parenting schedule; and
  • You may need your co-parent’s permission to travel with your children, depending on where you are going.

Your co-parent is more likely to cooperate with your vacation plans if you tell them well in advance. If you are asking for a greater-than-normal share of parenting time, you should offer your co-parent additional parenting time on another date. Your co-parent may have a right to block your planned trip if they believe you are taking the children to an unsafe place or otherwise putting them in danger.

Planning a Trip

Before you talk to your co-parent, you should have an idea of where you will be going for your vacation. You can make more concrete plans once you know that you are clear with your co-parent. There are several questions you should ask before choosing a destination:

  • What activities would both you and your children enjoy?;
  • What is your budget for the trip?;
  • How well can you attend to your children as a single parent?; and
  • Should this be an opportunity to visit family?

Your children should participate in deciding where you will be going and what you will be doing. As a parent, you must understand what is practical. You may not have the money for an exotic vacation or the energy for a high activity vacation if you are the sole caretaker of the children. It may help to invite another trusted adult, such as a family member.

Contact a Batavia Divorce Lawyer

You and your children deserve the excitement of a vacation after the trauma of going through a divorce. A Kane County family law attorney at Van Larson Law, P.C., can advise you on how to add vacation time to your parenting plan. To schedule a consultation, call 630-879-9090.


Posted in Batavia Divorce Lawyer, Child Custody, Coparenting, Divorce, Family Law, Illinois divorce lawyer, Kane County family law attorney | Tagged , , , |