Preserving Your Retirement Benefits During Your DivorceDivorce has a way of affecting every aspect of your life – including your retirement plans. Getting a divorce can deplete your retirement savings, disrupt your scheduled contributions, and throw off your planned retirement age. Those who are most affected are people going through a grey divorce, which is when people age 50 and older divorce after several years of marriage. A person in their 50s has less time to adjust their plans before they retire. No matter your age, divorce does not have to decimate your retirement plan if you are prepared during your negotiations:

  1. Prioritize Retirement Benefits: The value of your retirement account is marital property that you include in the division of assets. In order to keep valuable property, such as your marital home, you could agree to give up a portion of your retirement benefits or forgo your claim to your spouse’s benefits. Making this deal may be short-sighted because you are depleting your retirement plan and paying for maintenance and property taxes on the home. It may make more sense to downsize your home and preserve your retirement benefits.
  2. Review Your Budget: Your individual expenses can increase after divorce because you no longer have two incomes to pay for everything. Some divorcees are also responsible for child support or spousal maintenance payments. One option to free up more income for immediate expenses is to decrease your regular contributions to your retirement plan. You should take a close look at your budget to determine how much money you need – including for your retirement – and conduct your divorce negotiations with that target amount in mind.
  3. Claim Your Share: Some people have not put much effort into their own retirement plans because they intend to live off of their spouse’s retirement benefits. You are still entitled to a share of your spouse’s retirement after your divorce, especially if you were married for a long time. You can receive Social Security benefits valued at half of your spouse’s benefits, as long as the benefits you would receive on your own are less than that amount. You can file a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) to receive a portion of your spouse’s retirement plan. Payment can be delayed until you have reached retirement age.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

Your retirement benefits may be one of the most important properties that you decide on during your divorce. A Batavia, Illinois, divorce attorney at Van Larson Law, P.C., understands that it is vital to include your retirement plans as part of your divorce. Schedule a free consultation by calling 630-879-9090.


Posted in Batavia Divorce Lawyer, Divorce, Family Law, Financial Problems, Illinois divorce lawyer, Kane County family law attorney, Property Division | Tagged , , , , |

What Are the Limits of Recreational Marijuana in Illinois?After months of anticipation and preparation, recreational marijuana is now legal in Illinois. It is an exciting time for those who enjoy the use of cannabis, businesses that will profit from its sale, and residents whose previous marijuana possession convictions are being expunged. However, there are still limits to marijuana possession and use, just as with any controlled substance. Some marijuana laws are more restrictive than laws for alcohol and tobacco. If you are unaware of the rules for recreational marijuana, you may be at risk of facing drug-related criminal charges.


Firstly, you must be at least age 21 to possess marijuana in Illinois. There are also limits to the amount of cannabis you can possess:

  • 30 grams of cannabis flower
  • 5 grams of cannabis concentrate
  • 500 milligrams of THC in a cannabis-infused product

If you are a visitor to Illinois, those possession limits are cut in half. Possessing more than the legal limit is a criminal offense.

Growth and Sale

Licensed dispensaries are the only ones who are allowed to sell marijuana products. You also need a license to grow marijuana, whether it is as a business or a medical marijuana user. Recreational marijuana users are not allowed to grow their own plants.


Marijuana use is banned in public places, including parks and restaurants. The safest place to use it is in your home. If you are renting your home, your landlord is allowed to prohibit you from smoking marijuana in your home or from eating marijuana-infused products in public areas on the property. It is also illegal to use cannabis around someone you know is under 21.

Vehicle Possession

It is illegal to transport marijuana in an open container in your vehicle. The marijuana must be sealed in an odor-proof container and in a place that is not readily accessible to the driver.


It is illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana. The difference now is that a police officer must determine whether you are impaired by your marijuana use. Illinois has determined that the legal limit is 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of your blood. However, there are doubts about whether THC levels show impairment because THC can remain in your bloodstream for weeks after marijuana use.

Interstate Travel

Keep in mind that recreational marijuana possession is still illegal on a federal level and in Illinois’ neighboring states. You could be charged for transporting marijuana across a state border or possessing it on federal property, including national parks.

Contact a Batavia, Illinois, Criminal Defense Lawyer

Illinois law enforcement and residents are in the midst of an adjustment period as they learn and get used to the new marijuana laws. A Kane County criminal defense attorney at Van Larson Law, P.C., can help you if you run afoul of the marijuana laws or if you are wrongly arrested by a police officer who is mistaken about the laws. To schedule a consultation, call 630-879-9090.


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How to Know Whether You Could Benefit from a Prenuptial AgreementNobody who is about to get married wants to think about the possibility that they may one day get divorced. You create a prenuptial agreement with that scenario in mind, which makes asking for a prenup an awkward conversation to have with your fiance. For some people, it is a worthwhile conversation to have given their individual circumstances. The agreement can decide how you will divide your marital properties and pay spousal maintenance at a time when it is easier to negotiate with each other than it would be during a divorce. Creating a prenuptial agreement would be particularly helpful if any of the following applies to you:

  1. There Is an Income Gap Between You and Your Partner: When one spouse is the breadwinner in a relationship, the other spouse becomes financially dependent upon the marriage. The solution in the event of a divorce is spousal maintenance paid to the lower-income spouse, but the higher-income spouse is likely to try to minimize those payments. By including spousal maintenance in the prenuptial agreement, the lower-income spouse has more certainty about the amount of financial support they would receive after a divorce.
  2. You Have Valuable Premarital Assets: It may not be worth the effort to create a prenuptial agreement if you and your spouse are entering your marriage with few assets. If you do divorce in the future, your financial situation may have changed enough that the property portion of the agreement would be obsolete. However, some people enter a marriage already owning valuable properties, such as real estate or a business. Though premarital properties are normally not divided in a divorce, it is easy for these valuable assets to become marital properties by comingling them with your marital finances. A prenuptial agreement can state that your valuable premarital assets would belong to you after your divorce.
  3. You Plan to Have Children: Prenuptial agreements are not allowed to decide issues such as child support or the allocation of parental responsibilities. However, raising your children may require one of you to take a step back in your career, whether it is leaving your job or passing up on opportunities for career advancement. As a result, your income may be lower than your spouse’s income, making spousal maintenance more important during a divorce.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Attorney

You cannot rush the creation of a prenuptial agreement. Signing the document without considering the consequences could put you at a disadvantage if you divorced. If you are considering a prenuptial agreement, you need to immediately contact a Batavia, Illinois, divorce attorney at Van Larson Law, P.C. To schedule a consultation today, call 630-879-9090.


Posted in Batavia Divorce Lawyer, Divorce, Family Law, Illinois divorce lawyer, Kane County family law attorney, Prenuptial agreements, Property Division, Spousal Maintenance | Tagged , , , , |

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.


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