Sunday, December 17, 2017

Repeal of deduction for alimony payments. One year delay in implementing.

So under the new tax plan approved by Congress (awaiting presidential approval) alimony will NOT be tax deductible. A strange result given that our president is on his third wife and reportedly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in alimony to his former wives.

What does the new tax bill do? Compare the current law and the tax law as approved by the House and Senate.

CURRENT LAW: Alimony and separate maintenance payments are deductible by the payor spouse and includible in income by the recipient spouse. Child support payments are not treated as alimony and is tax neutral.

PROPOSED LAW: (about to get signed) Alimony and separate maintenance payments are NOT deductible by the payor spouse and repeals the Tax Code provisions that specify that alimony and separate maintenance payments are included in income. The treatment of child support is not changed.

WHEN IS THIS EFFECTIVE? When signed by the president. this change becomes effective for any divorce or separation agreement entered after December 31, 2018, or for any divorce or separation instrument executed on or before December 31, 2018 and modified after that date, if the modification expressly provides that the amendments made by this section apply to such modification.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? It means there will likely be a lot of arguing in court over this issue and re-reading and re-interpretation of tax provisions in old settlement agreements about taxes! Hopefully the state legislatures will also address this issue - luckily the new provisions will take another year before they become effective.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Proposed Law would state that equal parenting (shared custody) time is presumptively in children's best interests


There is a major change being proposed to address the battle of "traditional" custody (alternating weekends parenting time) vs. a presumption of equal parenting time - all with such a slight re-arrangement of words. Right now there really is no presumption one way or another although many believe that no presumption for equal parenting time is a presumption against it. I don’t really follow that line of thinking but I agree there is a problem to be addressed – just not this way (using a presumption).

With 20 years of practicing family law and seeing presumptions come and go, I think a presumption in any direction is instituting a hurdle that shouldn't be there. A presumption in any form puts its fingers on the scale - many times at the expense of children's best interests and in certain other circumstances - at the encouragement of financial or other abuse.

If judges are the problem, this is not the solution - certainly not as drafted!

How about some factors in there....

  1) how close do the parties live together

  2) what is the pre-divorce filing pattern of care for children,

  3) what is the current pattern of care?

  4) degree of party cooperation on children's issues both pre and post filing

  5) financial ability for two households to be supported on the parties incomes after support is paid....       

and I'm sure a few more are needed.

Overall, shared custody is not a panacea - it fixes one problem but invites a whole new set of problems.




Amends the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. To the list of purposes of the Act, adds recognizing that the involvement of each parent for equal time is presumptively in the children's best interests. Deletes language providing that nothing in the Act requires that each parent be allocated decision-making responsibilities. Provides that it is presumed that it is in the child's best interests to award equal time to each parent. Provides that it is presumed that both parents are fit and the court shall not place any restrictions on parenting time unless it finds by clear and convincing evidence (instead of a preponderance of the evidence) that a parent's exercise of parenting time would seriously endanger the child's physical, mental, moral, or emotional health. In specified situations, requires the court to issue a written decision stating its specific findings of fact and conclusions of law in support of its ruling. Provides that the court may restrict or modify parental responsibilities after a showing of clear and convincing evidence (instead of a preponderance of the evidence) that the restriction or modification is warranted.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Illinois "Tweaks" Spousal Maintenance Guidelines in 2018

Illinois had a major change in the method of setting spousal maintenance (alimony) in 2015. At that time, maintenance was changed from the court giving factors to set an amount and duration to a system that kept the factors but added specific mathematical calculations to set both the amount and length of a maintenance award based on income and length of marriage.

Now those guidelines will be slightly modified in 2018 forward. Section 750 ILCS 5/504 of the divorce  statute dealing with maintenance raises the ceiling for cases where the guidelines are to be applied. Before, guidelines did not apply if the parties combined income was under $250,000 - now that ceiling is $500,000. So if you and your spouse's combined gross incomes fall under $500,000, the statute may apply. 

Also, under the old guidelines expiring in 2018, the duration (or length) of maintenance would jump at each 5 year anniversary of being married. Now the calculation of the length of maintenance is gradual and even throughout the term of marriage with no jumps at each 5 year anniversary.

Below is a link to a calculator we developed to help determine what is the proper amount of guideline maintenance based on the parties combined incomes. We will post a modified calculator once we have it set up to calculate the length of maintenance under the new statute.

DO NOT RELY ONLY ON THE CALCULATOR - YOU SHOULD CONSULT WITH AN ATTORNEY FIRST!




Thursday, June 8, 2017

Illinois Changes to Child Support in July 2017

On July 1, 2017 Illinois laws on child support will drastically change. Depending on your income, the other parent's income, child care costs health insurance costs and the amount of parenting time, there could be a major change in the support you pay or receive.

​The basic change is that Illinois will now use what is called an "income shares" model for setting child support. This is a major change from the percentage model that based child support only on the net income of the parent paying support that essentially ignored the income of the parent receiving support. One of the goals of this change is to address situations where the person receiving support had much higher income that the person paying support. Those situations could mean the person paying support could barely survive on a relatively lower income AND with an obligation to pay percentage support.

​Thus the income shares model factors in BOTH parties income and is meant to address the needs of both the household of the person receiving support as well as the household paying support. With the court now factoring in the combined incomes of both parents, the court can calculate the total contribution to be made to the child from both parents based upon that combined income.

To help calculate child support using the income shares model, the State of Illinois has released charts that establish:
​            A) the combined support amount based upon the number of children and gross income. "Gross to Net Income Conversion Table Using Standardized Tax Amounts"
​               B) a conversion chart that then calculates the total child support from the combined adjusted net income, "Income Share Schedule Based on Net Income"

Below is a more detailed outline of the steps. Note that with the changes, it will be important for you to use the services of a family law attorney to make sure this is done correctly. In the months following the implementation of the new law even judges and other family law lawyers will be working through the learning curve on this and having an experienced attorney help you will be critical.

1. Calculate Both Parent’s Combined Net Monthly Income

This is done by adding up all income from all sources and then properly calculating federal, state, FICA or self-employment tax, and medicare, Income from all sources includes the receipt of spousal maintenance. Similarly, the payment of any maintenance reduces gross income for the person paying maintenance. A major change from prior laws is that some of the previously deducted items from gross pay are no longer allowable deductions and so eliminated deductions are union dues, mandatory retirement contributions, student loan payments, and life insurance premiums.

From there, one of two formulas is used to calculate net income, by using either:
​           A) a standardized tax amount formula or
           B) an individualized tax amount formula.

The standardized tax amount formula makes blanket assumptions that will not apply to everyone's situation such as assuming everyone's tax filing status is single or that everyone has only one dependency exemption. Thus the standardized approach is fairly narrow and applies in limited situations. The individualized tax amount formula is far more accurate but also requires more detailed calculations as it factors in the parties actual tax filing status, the number of dependency exemptions and other tax matters affecting net income such as itemized deductions, earned income tax credits, etc.

Other Support Obligations. When one of the parents supports other children or households, there may be an adjustment so that the amounts paid to for another family are factored into the calculation.

2. Use the Combined Net Monthly Income to Determine the total Child Support obligation from the published Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligation.

To arrive at the total child support needed, use the combined income calculated in step one above and apply that to the to the number of children the parties have and then find the corresponding amount on the Schedule of Basic Child Support.

3. Calculate Each Parent’s Percentage Share of the total Child Support Obligation

​To then figure out how much child support a parent will pay, you divide one parent’s monthly net income by the total combined net income. Thus if the father's net income is $6,500 per month and the total combined net income is $10,000, then he is obligated to pay 65% of the total support obligation to the mother if she has a majority of parenting time.

Note: There is a deviation from this formula if the parents share parenting time equally or the parent without a majority of parenting time has 146 or more overnights per year.

​If this is confusing to you, then all the more reason you will need the assistance of an attorney to help ensure you are either paying or receiving the correct support under the new statute. Most family law attorneys also use software designed to assist in making these calculations accurate. If you are having issues trying to figure out child support, our attorneys stand ready to assist you. For a consultation, call (815) 954-8175

​Links:

Gross to Net Income Conversion Table Using Standardized Tax Amounts
​Income Shares Schedule Based on Net income

Saturday, December 17, 2016

2017 Judge Reassignment Administrative Order Issued

The 2017 Order has been issued reassigning Will County Judges.

For the Family Courts, there is only one judge reassignment. Judge Victoria Kennsion (Room 306) will be replaced by Judge Zalazo

ORDERS OF PROTECTION: Associate Judge Jessica Colon-Sayre (Courtroom 300)
and Associate Judge Elizabeth Hoskins Dow (Courtroom 301).

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Designs for the New Will County Courthouse Taking Shape

Will County is long over due for a new courthouse. The current building is literally falling apart and needs to go. At a recent seminar, a preliminary designs of the new courthouse was circulated. The new courthouse will take over the city block just West of the current courthouse and just east of City Hall. Current designs have it as a very modern 10 story building. Here is a link to a floor-by-floor layout.
Markup of Proposed Courthouse
Current Courthouse




Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Updated Mediator List

Several times a year, the Will County Court issues a new list of court-approved mediators. Here is the latest list from March 2016. NOTE: it is subject to change without notice and if you want an updated list, either get one from a courtroom or obtain a list from the law library at the Will County Courthouse, Fourth Floor or the clerk's office on the second floor. The law library is open to the public.

Will County

Will County

Will County


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Parenting Classes in Will County - status as of August 2016

Illinois' Supreme Court Rules require that anyone getting a divorce complete parenting classes before the divorce is granted. In Will County judges often require that the parents complete the parenting classes in paternity cases as well. Sometimes the requirement can be waived when the only minor child is 17 years old. IMPORTANT: You will not be able to complete your divorce unless the parent that files for the divorce completes the parenting class and has his or her certificate of completion at the final court date. If the parent that didn't file the divorce refuses or fails to complete the class, the judge usually suspends his or her court-ordered parenting time/visitation - at least  until the class is completed and the certificate filed with the court.

Traditionally in Will County, the University of Saint Francis conducted all the parenting classes in person at one of their facilities. The registration process started at:

www.stfrancis.edu/content/solutions/parenting/register.htm - cost: $90.00

If you are unable to personally attend the class above because you are out of state or have some other valid reason, you may need to ask your judge to excuse you from the court approved classes. You should get the judge's permission BEFORE you take a class not approved. Here are some alternatives generally approved as alternatives:

www.children1stfoundation.net - cost: $80.00

www.dupageco.org/FamilyCenter/OnlineTraining/ - cost: $50.00 (must have Windows computer)

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Grounds (Reasons) for Divorce Made Easy in 2016

The revised Illinois divorce law, enacted January 1, 2016, eliminates all of the fault-based grounds for divorce and left us with a single, no-fault ground for divorce, "irreconcilable differences". The revised law also eliminates the two (2) year separation period that was required to dissolve a marriage, and replaces it with a six (6) month separation period which reads as follows, "If the parties live separate and apart for a continuous period of not less than 6 months immediately preceding the entry of the judgment dissolving the marriage, there is an irrebuttable presumption that the requirement of irreconcilable differences has been met."

As a result, you only need to state in your initial petition that irreconcilable differences have led to the irretrievable breakdown of your marriage and that you and your spouse have lived separate and apart for six (6) consecutive months by the time a judgment of divorce is entered.

However, don’t panic if both you and your spouse plan to live in the family home throughout the divorce because, although the law states "separate and apart", it does not mean that one of you has to move out. This provision simply means that, for at least six (6) months before entry of the final judgment, you and your spouse live together as two separate, unrelated individuals living under the same roof, without a sexual relationship. Easy, right???