When it comes to getting divorced, hiring an attorney to represent you, to guide you through the process, to explain the current laws, and litigate for you in court, is extremely important. There are certain intricacies in the law and the processes that you might not understand yourself that an attorney can help with.
4 Reasons Legal Representation Makes a Difference in a Divorce
Here are a few reasons why obtaining legal representation for your Chicago divorce is important and how not obtaining legal representation could cause problems:
1. You need to understand the different types of retirement accounts you might be dealing with when it comes time to divide them in a divorce.
Not all retirement accounts are the same. There are retirement accounts that might offer a set payment to you each month upon retirement, defined benefit plans, which are usually pensions. The longer you work, the larger your monthly payment will be from the pension plan. The other retirement plans are defined contribution plans, which include but are not limited to IRAs , 403(b)’s and 401(k) accounts, and the life. These accounts allow you to withdraw funds upon retirement age (with certain limits set by the law), but the balances of theses accounts fluctuate based on the investments. Any funds that were added the IRAs or 401(k) accounts during the marriage, and any pension benefits that accumulated over the years of the marriage are all considered marital. Knowing what retirement accounts exist between you and your spouse, and how they will be divided, will help you identify your current retirement position, and what action you might need to take in the future to feel secure about retirement.
2. Accounting for taxes in your divorce settlement/case is important.
Just about everything about your tax situation is going to change upon divorce. You will have a new filing status, a different tax bracket, and possibly a change to the dependents you claim if you or your spouse will get to claim the minor children or you alternate. You should consider the tax implications of divorce before your case is final so you can adjust your withholdings appropriately on your paychecks, and so you know what money you may or may not be getting back from a tax refund in the future. You also need to consider your future liability when it comes to your income. If you have dividends, or sell stock, or withdraw funds from your retirement, this could negatively affect your tax liability for the next tax year. Your divorce attorney can advise on some of the tax implications when discussing the settlement of the case, but you should also consult with a skilled accountant or tax preparer.
3. Don’t assume that “Equal” division is the fair division of marital property.
A house in divorce does not have the same value as a retirement account. A rental or investment property does not have the same kind of value of a car. When trying to settle a case, you need to think about more than just the inherent value and whether it is worth it on your end to fight for an unequal division of some assets. If you are planning on receiving 50% of the equity from the marital house, that is money you get at the divorce and unless you invest it, that’s all the money you get. However, a retirement account that is divided has the potential for losses and gains, but hopefully, gains if you won’t be retiring for many years. A car’s value will go down the longer it is used and the older it gets, but a rental property has the potential to earn you additional income despite having bills to pay and possible loss in value. Consider the real value of the property and other assets you will be dividing in your case, and think about what might have more value for you based on your current and future financial situation.
<a class=”btn big center” href=”/guides/guide-to-property-division-in-divorce/”>Helpful Resource: Guide to Property Division in Divorce</a>
4. Calculating child support and/or maintenance can be tricky depending on how each party earns an income.
Child support and spousal maintenance in Illinois are calculated by inputting each party’s gross income into a software program called “Family Law Software.” This program calculates accurate taxes based on income but requires you to input additional information like mandatory retirement deductions, medical insurance premium costs, length of marriage, etc. There is a program that is similar and available through the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services website, but it is not as accurate when there are more details to add or if the parties are not W-2 wage earners. If your spouse has his or her own business, is a contract worker, or works on commission, calculating child support or maintenance with the program can be tricky. You want to ensure that any support you will be receiving from your spouse will be an accurate amount. Not having a skilled attorney able to do accurate calculations and include all the necessary elements could result in you being paid much less than you are supposed to. Or, on the other side of things, possibly paying much more than you should. Retaining an experienced family law attorney for your divorce case will ensure that the correct support amount is being paid.
Ready to Seek Legal Representation for Your Chicago Divorce?
If you are considering representing yourself in a divorce or family law dispute, consider seeking advice from an experienced Chicago divorce attorney before making a final decision. Your future may depend on it. Schedule a free consultation with the Chicago family law attorneys at Anderson & Boback to explore your legal options.