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Kane County alimony attorney Illinois spousal maintenance lawsFor many couples, spousal maintenance is an important issue to address during divorce. Alimony payments can help a lower-earning spouse maintain a standard of living similar to what they enjoyed while they were married, and they will also have a major impact on the finances of a higher-earning spouse. However, divorcing couples should be aware that there are significant changes in store for divorces which are finalized on or after January 1, 2019. On that date, both federal and state laws will be going into effect that will change the way courts award spousal maintenance and how alimony is treated for tax purposes.

Changes to Federal Law

At the federal level, alimony will no longer be tax deductible for the paying spouse. For the spouse receiving spousal maintenance, the new law does not require that spousal support be claimed as income. Experts generally agree that this will likely have the effect of smaller spousal maintenance payments, since more of the paying spouse’s income will go toward paying taxes.

Changes to Illinois Law

The state of Illinois has also changed its laws on spousal maintenance in two main respects. The first change to the law concerns how courts will decide if spousal support is appropriate at all between the spouses. Not every divorcing couple will qualify for spousal support. 

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St. Charles divorce lawyer parental responsibilityIf you are an Illinois parent going through a divorce, your divorce decree will include a parenting plan that specifies how parental responsibility (also known as decision making) and parenting time (also known as custody and visitation) will be allocated between you and your ex-spouse. 

This is an important document that will play a major part in determining how you will interact with your former spouse and your child for years to come. Therefore, it is critical to think through this document and to be as comprehensive as possible. It is also important to make the terms flexible. This plan must be able to grow with your family for years to come. 

The Importance of a Parenting Plan

Before discussing what should be covered in your parenting plan, it is important to understand the purpose of such a document within the scope of your family law case. You and your ex may be able to work together to create a parenting plan, but if you cannot agree on the terms of the plan, each of you must file your own parenting plan. Typically, each spouse is required to file a parenting plan within 120 days of petitioning for parental responsibilities. A court will review and consider the parenting plans when deciding how parental responsibilities will be divided. 

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St. Charles divorce taxes attorney tax reform maintenance mortgage interestLast December, Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which represented the largest reform of the U.S. Tax Code in the past 30 years. This law made a wide variety of changes which will affect nearly everyone who pays taxes in the United States, and couples who are planning to get end their marriage should be sure to understand how this law will impact their divorce. Here are three areas of the tax law which will affect divorce cases:

  1. Spousal maintenance - For divorce agreements executed after December 31, 2018, maintenance (alimony) will no longer be tax deductible for the payor, and maintenance payments will no longer be includable as part of the recipient’s gross income. Divorcing spouses should be sure to understand how this change will affect their maintenance payments, and couples with a prenuptial agreement may need to update their agreement to reflect this change to the law.
  2. Mortgage interest - For new home loans taken out after December 14, 2017, the interest is only deductible for the first $750,000 of the mortgage for a first and second home. Taxpayers with existing mortgages can continue to deduct interest on a total of $1 million for a first and second mortgage. However, interest on home equity indebtedness (that is, mortgage debt that is not used to acquire, build, or improve a primary residence) is no longer deductible, even for currently existing home equity. Couples should be sure to understand how these changes will affect the tax implications of dividing real estate property during divorce.
  3. 529 plans - When parents use a Section 529 plan to save for their children’s educational expenses, they are able to withdraw funds from these plans to pay for college expenses without being subject to taxes. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, parents are now allowed to make tax-free distributions of up to $10,000 per beneficiary per year to pay tuition for elementary or secondary public, private, or religious school. Following divorce, parents may be able to use these funds to help pay for their children’s K-12 education.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Attorney

The full effects of the tax reform law are still being determined, and couples who are planning to divorce should be sure they understand how their finances will be affected by these changes. At Ariano Hardy Ritt Nyuli Richmond Lytle & Goettel P.C., we can work with you to address every legal and financial issue in your divorce, and we will advocate for your interests throughout the divorce process, ensuring that you will have the financial resources you need as you embark on the next phase of your life. Contact our Elgin divorce lawyers at 847-695-2400 to schedule a free consultation.

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Geneva spousal maintenance attorneyWhen a couple decides to get divorced, they will be required to significantly reconfigure their lives, separating a shared home and finances into two different households. This can result in a great deal of financial upheaval, and when one spouse earns less than their former partner, they may struggle to make ends meet. In these cases, the lower-earning spouse may be eligible to receive financial support (known as spousal maintenance, spousal support, or alimony) from the higher-earning spouse. However, spouses should be aware of some recent changes to Illinois law related to temporary maintenance awarded during divorce and the total duration of maintenance payments.

Temporary Maintenance As a Credit to the Total Duration of Maintenance

Some changes to Illinois divorce law went into effect on January 1, 2018, and the percentages used to determine the duration that spousal maintenance will be paid are now based on the specific number of years of marriage, for marriages between five and 20 years. However, this duration may be affected by temporary maintenance awarded during divorce.

After a spouse has filed a petition for divorce, but before the entry of the final divorce decree, a spouse may petition the court for temporary relief, asking for decisions to be made about how certain matters will be handled while the divorce is pending. Temporary maintenance is one common type of temporary relief, and a spouse can ask to receive support from their partner based on financial affidavits submitted by both parties.

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St. Charles divorce lawyer spousal supportIllinois has a penchant for using a language of its own in matters of child support and spousal support. Just as child custody has been recast as the “allocation of parental responsibility,” permanent maintenance in matters of spousal support (alimony) is now termed “maintenance for an indefinite term.” Importantly, however, with this semantic change comes a new approach to long-term spousal maintenance in Illinois.

Beginning in 2018, Illinois Spousal Support is Less Likely to Be Permanent

“Maintenance for an indefinite term” is less likely to be permanent in nature than “permanent maintenance.” Linguistically, this makes sense, as permanence is synonymous with the word “forever,” while indefiniteness merely speaks to an end point that has yet to be determined. In terms of numbers – which are far more useful than words when it comes to forecasting spousal maintenance in Illinois – the duration of the marriage is a helpful starting point. 

The length of the marriage is often the initial term of years established in a decree of “maintenance for an indefinite term.” While this term, if derived from a marriage of 20 years or more, may in effect amount to permanent maintenance (in the sense that it will go on for the lifetime of each former spouse), the same cannot be said of a relatively brief marriage. For marriages of less than 20 years, maintenance will last for a certain percentage of the length of the marriage. 

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