Maintenance Law Changes and What that Means to You
May 21, 2018
By, Tracey A. Hower
Effective January 1, 2019, Maintenance payments will no longer be a tax deduction for the Payor and will not be considered income for the payee. This change will greatly affect new divorce cases because the dynamics of how divorce cases are settled will be forever changed.
Although the law changes do not go into effect until January, 2019, it begs the question – will the new maintenance laws of 2017 and 2018, which converted maintenance awards from case law to a statutory formula, change again? This is important because if the law is not changed with regard to the formula currently used for maintenance, it appears that this will cause a significant financial burden on the payor and the payee would receive a windfall.
It is important that you know that your attorney’s knowledge is up to date on all the newly passed and upcoming changes in the law. If you find yourself with an inexperienced attorney, or an attorney that is not up to date with the latest changes in the law, your resulting settlement may not be at all what you thought it would or could have been. Don’t wait until it is too late to make sure your attorney is one that is ever educating him or herself.
New Year Ushers in New Formulas for Calculating Maintenance Payments in Divorce Proceedings
February 16th, 2018
Effective January 1, 2018, Illinois changed the number of cases subject to the statutory maintenance guidelines and the method for calculating maintenance in all pending divorce cases and for all divorces filed after January 1, 2018. Public Act 100-520, effective January 1, increased the combined income of divorcing individuals that would be subject to the statutory maintenance guidelines from $250,000 per couple to $500,000 per couple.
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Comprehensive Changes in Illinois Child Support
May 15th, 2017
Illinois law makers have finally made the transition in child support calculation to be that of the majority of the other states. The new law went into effect July 1, 2017. Most people paying or receiving child support aren’t even aware of the first massive change to Illinois child support law in over 25 years. But beware, if you are currently paying or receiving child support, you cannot just go back to court to get your child support reduced solely because the new law went into effect. In order for the courts to consider adjusting child support there must be a “substantial change” in circumstances. A substantial change might be a reduction in income, a new employer, etc.
For years Illinois had used a “percentage guideline” approach for calculating child support. This approach had simply taken a statutory multiplier (20% in situations where one child is to receive support) and applied it to the payor’s allowable net income to reach a child support amount. For example, an obligor with a net allowable income of $2,500 was required to pay a $500 in child support obligation for one child. The percentages went higher based on the number of children.
Effective July 1, 2017, Illinois utilizes an “income shares” approach to the calculation of child support. Both parents will have a specific, statutory amount of child support for which he or she is legally responsible. The parent with the majority amount of parenting time with the child(ren) will not actually pay the statutorily determined support amount, the effect of establishing that parent’s child support obligation is a reduction in the amount of child support he or she will receive from the parent with less parenting time.
The new calculations require the court to determine the net income of both parents in order to calculate the child support due from one parent to the other. If both parties are employed, the net income of both parents (as determined by a statutorily defined formula) is combined, and the percentage of child support owed by each party is calculated by referencing a schedule developed by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. If one parent is not employed, or underemployed, the Court can impute income to that parent in order to determine child support.
The new law also provides a formula designed to further reduce the non-majority time parent’s child support obligation if that parent has the child or children overnight for 146 or more nights per year. If you were divorced prior to January 1, 2016, this reduction might apply to you if you were designated as the “non-custodial” or “non-residential” parent, but still have your child overnight for at least 146 nights during the calendar year.
There are other new provisions took effect July 1, 2017 which involve health insurance costs, extracurricular activities, child care, and school costs. The Hower Law Firm LLC is available to assist you with any questions you might have as to how this new law might affect your right to or payment of child support.
Top 7 Tips for Depositions and Trials
February 1, 2017
Tracey A. Hower
1. Provide all your evidence to your lawyer in advance. Any information you have in support of your matter should be reviewed with your lawyer well in advance of the disposition or the trail. During your testimony there should be no surprises. New evidence may be admitted if the proper protocol is followed so let our lawyer know as soon as possible when this occurs.
2. Tell the truth and if you make a mistake, correct it. It is very important that you establish your credibility and the worst thing to do is to not tell the truth. No matter how bad you thing the information may be, it is never as damaging as perjury. Discuss anything you feel that may be damaging information ahead of time with your lawyer. Conversations between you and your lawyer are protected by attorney-client privilege. Testifying can be stressful, if you make a mistake, don’t be afraid to say, “I made a mistake” and correct the error.
3. Prepare for your testimony, bring your notes to the court room, and do not bring your notes to the witness stand. Prepare so you don’t have trouble remembering the details of past events that you will be asked to testify about, such as involved parties, dates, times, and places. Bring your notes because it shows you took the time to prepare. Generally, notes on the witness stand make your testimony less credible as it appears scripted and if the notes contain private or confidential information the opposing lawyer may be entitled to read them. Make a list of all items that you might be asked about including: Addresses, education, employment history, property purchase and sale details, separation date, and children’s education / medical care history. Include names of doctors, dentists, teachers, counselors, and school names. Share the list with your lawyer when you are preparing for your testimony.
4. Dress appropriately for trials. A courtroom is a very conservative arena; therefore, you should choose attire that shows respect for the judge and the court proceedings keeping in mind that the way you dress and present is a direct reflection of your credibility. The goal is to look professional, dressing appropriately for your position in the company or community. The goal is not to be noticed because of your outfit, but for the value of your testimony.
5. Never argue with the the judge, the other lawyer, or your spouse in the courtroom. Always show respect for everyone in the room as your manner should never distract the judge or jury from careful consideration of your testimony. Don’t interrupt anyone else or make faces when they are talking. This is only discredit your credibility. Some lawyers will try to bait you into an argument, just to tarnish your image in court. There is never any benefit in arguing with your spouse’s lawyer or the judge, who is responsible for deciding how to divide property, establish alimony / child support, or allocate custody.
6. Listen to the question, be sure you understand, and respond with short answers whenever possible. Lawyers may ask you a question in a round about way that can be difficult to comprehend. If you don’t understand the question, don’t be afraid to ask for it to be repeated. The best answers are: Yes, No, I don’t remember / know as short answers are generally more helpful to you. If your lawyer wishes to expand on your testimony, because it may help your case, they will have a chance to do so after your testimony.
7. Never guess, estimate, or volunteer anything that wasn’t specifically asked. No one expects you to make a guess or speculate. If you don’t know for certain, it is best to say, “I don’t recall right now.” Or “I don’t have that information.” In some cases, you may be asked to guess or estimate so in your answer say, “I’m guessing”, or “approximately” in your answer. You may want to be helpful with information. In some cases, more information can be damaging to your case, especially if you aren’t sure of the information.