Same-Sex Married Couples Will be Able to File Joint Federal Tax Returns

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Following the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down DOMA as unconstitutional, the U.S. Treasury has determined that all married same-sex couples will be allowed to file joint tax returns regardless of where they currently live.  This clarifies some of the confusion following the Supreme Court’s decision.

The problem is that certain federal laws look to the marital status of the parties at the time of the event based on the state in which the parties reside.  This would create a complex system where whether a couple files joint tax returns would depend both on where they were married and whether the state in which they currently reside would recognize the marriage.  Of course, this could result in switching back and forth between filing statuses as the couple moves to new states.

The new ruling avoids this result and significantly reduces the administrative burden to determine compliance.  As long as the marriage was legal at the time it was entered into, then the couple will use the married status on their tax returns in the future.  This ruling, however, is not without a downside.

For same-sex couples who want to be divorced, but live in a state that does not recognize their marriage, not only would they have to remain married, they will be nearly permanently attached for federal tax purposes.  Unless they meet certain exceptions, they would need to continue to file joint tax returns, despite being separate, or file as married filing separately.  The married filing separately status usually results in a significantly higher tax burden.

The new ruling means little for Illinois residents.  Those in a civil union in Illinois are not considered married.  As such, they still would not be able to file joint federal tax returns.

Illinois Law May Prohibit Unallocated Maintenance in Divorce

The law changes frequently.  There are some major changes being proposed in the legislature right now including a complete rewrite of the laws regarding divorce.  One major change is a complete prohibition on using unallocated maintenance.

Normally child support is not taxable to the recipient.  Maintenance is taxable to the recipient and deductible to the payor.  Unallocated maintenance combines child support and maintenance such that the entire amount is deductible.

The reason why this is important is the difference in tax rates after a divorce.  The person who earned most of the income is in a much higher tax bracket than the historical primary caretaker for the children.  As an example, in a recent case, I projected that because of the differences in tax rates, an unallocated support award instead of regular child support would have increased total post-tax cash available by $1,000 per month.  That benefit could be split between the parties.  Both the husband and the wife would have $500 per month more than if they used regular child support.

This is what the statute prohibits.  It does not just prohibit the court from entering such an order following trial — it prohibits any order for unallocated maintenance.  There is no exception for agreements.

This portion of the proposed legislation is stupid.  It is stupid.  It takes a tool out of the tool box that is the closest thing we have to creating a settlement alternative that benefits both parties at the cost of the government.  Its one of the only times divorce negotiations is not a zero-sum game.  Why on earth would we want to remove this as a possibility when the parties agree to the use of unallocated maintenance?  Because its difficult for financially illiterate attorneys to comprehend?  Well, attorneys, get educated — that’s your job.

Divorce and Financial Seminar Hosted by SLG

I’m happy to announce that on November 7, 2013 Stetler Law Group will be hosting its first seminar.  The seminar is being held at Marzano’s Italian Restaurant in McHenry, Illinois.  The seminar theme is your finances and divorce.  We will have four experts presenting including a family law attorney and lawyer, forensic accountant, a Certified Financial Planner and an investment professional.

The presentations will focus on helping people know what financial information they need to protect themselves before a divorce and in the initial stages of a divorce.  Then we will discuss the divorce process and financial issues that come up in a divorce.  Finally, after a divorce a lot of financial decisions need to be made to get your goals back on track and a CFP will be giving a presentation on this issue.

The divorce seminar is being held in McHenry and everyone is invited!  If you live in McHenry, Woodstock, Crystal Lake, Huntley, Algonquin or the surrounding towns and are considering a divorce, worried that your spouse may be considering a divorce, are going through a divorce or need help recovering from a divorce, this is a divorce seminar you shouldn’t miss.

Dinner will be served and all the experts will be available for your comments or questions.  Hope to see you there and if you know of anyone else who could use this information, please feel free to pass along this McHenry Divorce Seminar Flyer.

Find Comfort And Support From Your Woodstock Family Lawyer

Woodstock family lawyerWhen you exchanged your wedding vows you never imagined that marriage would come to an end. This is a difficult and challenging transition for anyone to go through. You can find some measure of comfort knowing you don’t have to face this situation alone. Retaining the help of an experienced Woodstock family lawyer will instantly put an ally on your side that you can depend on for sage counsel. As that same Woodstock family attorney will help with the resolution of your settlement and any custody issues, they will also be able to offer you a strong shoulder to lean on.

A Woodstock Family Lawyer on Taking Time with Your Feelings

This might be the first time you’ve gone through a divorce, but your Woodstock family lawyer will have years of experience in these matters to guide you through the next several months. The first thing you’ll want to keep in mind is that you’re in no rush to “get over” what you’re feeling. Your Woodstock family attorney will be able to settle the legal matters but the emotional healing could take a lot longer. You’re under no obligation to rush through this process.

During this time, your Woodstock family lawyer will advise you to keep up with your current employment. As tempting as it might be to want to escape from it all, you need to stick with your job. If you feel the need for a big change it would probably be best to wait several months after your lawyer has worked out the settlement. You don’t need any extra upheaval.

A Woodstock Family Lawyer Discusses Leaning on Your Friends

Although your Woodstock family attorney will be offering plenty of support, nothing beats the kind of help you can get from your close circle of friends. There will be some awkward moments ahead as you sort out your feelings and discover who is really on your side. Once that has been worked out, you’ll feel a lot better knowing who you can call on.

Your Woodstock Family Lawyer Can Help

You’ll want to know that your Woodstock family lawyer is standing by to offer any legal assistance that you need during this time. The Stetler Law Group understands the need to be supportive. They know what you’re going through and will be completely sensitive to your needs. Call them today at (815) 529-4554 to discuss your needs.

A Woodstock Family Lawyer Addresses Child Contact Issues

Woodstock Family AttorneyA divorce is often more than the dissolution of a marriage. When children are involved it can become the break-up of a family. The guidance of a Woodstock family lawyer will be of great importance as you deal with child contact issues.

Visiting a Girlfriend or Boyfriend

Your Woodstock family attorney is unlikely to encourage you to share your children’s visits with a boyfriend or girlfriend. These visits are time set aside for you and your children to spend together. Your children need and want to be with you and may not want to share you with someone else. By introducing another person, your children’s private time with mommy or daddy is no longer private and the children may begin to wonder whether they are as important to you as the other person seems to be. Further, since your attention during such visits must necessarily be divided, they may feel that they are an inconvenience—that perhaps mommy and daddy would rather be with the significant other and they are in the way. Your children must always know that they are first in your affections and their welfare and best interests should always take priority.

Maintaining the Schedule

The time you set aside for your children should be scheduled on a regular, predictable and recurring basis, with as few changes as can reasonably be possible. Your Woodstock family attorney will remind you that if for some reason you are unable to meet with your children at the normal time you must advise the other parent and the child immediately. Let them know when to expect you, and then be there at the rescheduled time without fail. Failure to do this is more than bad manners. It tells the child that they’re not important enough for you to remember that you were supposed to come for them.

Changes to the Schedule

No schedule is ironclad, and your Woodstock family attorney can tell you that there will be times when you will need to make adjustments. By scheduling a meeting with your ex-spouse at regular intervals you can make such alterations as may be necessary as your children grow and their needs change.

When the Other Parent Has Custody

Regardless of which parent has custody, your children need both of you. An experienced Woodstock family attorney can advise you that it is necessary for the child’s happiness and well-being that both mother and father are there for him. That is what these contact visits are for. They are intended to reinforce the love that you both have for the children. Your divorce may separate you from your spouse, but it should not separate you both from your children.

Activities with Dad

Sometimes a father, especially a father of a very young child, is unsure of what to do or how to spend his contact visits. He may wonder where to take the child or what kinds of things the child may like to do. The one activity that the child is likely to prize most highly is simply being with Daddy. It may be nice to go places or do things he/she might not ordinarily be able to do but the most precious gift you can give to your child, next to your love, is your time. Your Woodstock family attorney may recommend that you find a father’s group or to take a course in parenting if you feel that you need additional support.

Help Is Available

Your Woodstock family attorney has the experience, training and skill to guide you when you need help with the divorce process and the effect it has on you and your family. Don’t wait. Call the Stetler Law Group at (815) 529-4554 today.

Learn What Can Make Your Divorce Difficult From a Qualified Woodstock Family Attorney

Woodstock family attorneyIt is understandable that your divorce will be difficult on many levels. However, as a competent Woodstock family attorney can explain, the degree of difficulty will rise if you engage in some common mistakes. You’ll face many challenges ahead, but you should be able to weather the storms by staying focused on what you can control and supporting your children. This is when your Woodstock family lawyer will prove to be a helpful ally.

Moving Beyond the Common Mistakes

Major areas of concern for any couple going through a divorce are the finances. Your Woodstock family attorney has probably seen many instances where spouses take advantage of each other by running up credit card debt or taking extra funds from a joint account. Don’t fall into that trap. Your Woodstock family lawyer could advise you to begin separating your finances by closing down joint accounts and starting your own credit. Additionally, you don’t want to get into a situation where you’re trying to hide assets, especially if you’re hiding them from your Woodstock family lawyer. This will put you at a disadvantage when the assets are discovered. You don’t want to make the job of your Woodstock family attorney any more difficult.

Processing the Pain

Another common mistake made by spouses in a divorce is letting jealous feelings get the better of them. Your Woodstock family attorney will advise against starting up a serious relationship before you’ve resolved matters with your current spouse. There are just too many entanglements that can cause trouble. It is better to put relationships on hold until the divorce is final.

You’ll also be dealing with a certain level of anger. An experienced Woodstock family attorney can cite countless occasions when children were used as “pawns” to get even with an embattled spouse. This is not going to help you resolve matters. It certainly won’t help you get on with your life. As hard as it will be, this is the time to let go because there is no going back.

Finalizing the Agreement With a Woodstock Family Attorney

The goal in any divorce proceeding is to reach a final agreement that is fair to both parties. For that you happen, you’ll probably be making sacrifices. Your Woodstock family attorney will do their best to ensure those sacrifices don’t run too deep. Working with the Stetler Law Group will put you together with attorneys who have a proven track record of success for their clients. Find out how they can help you by calling (815) 529-4554 today.

Understanding Parenting Plans and How to Get Beyond Anger after a Divorce

Crystal Lake Family Law AttorneyWoodstock family lawyer will explain parenting plans, why they’re difficult to enforce and how anger can negatively affect the parents and children.

An Attorney from the Woodstock Family Law Firm Will Help a Client Understand Parenting Plans

Often, a divorce court will issue orders on how parents who are ending their union will raise their children. These are unenforceable and rarely work. This is because it’s impossible to predict what will happen over the course of a child’s life and how parents will react to it. Courts can’t interfere with parents unless there is something illegal happening. It’s impossible to oversee regardless of the good intentions of the court and parents.

Reasons Why Shared Parenting Doesn’t Work

Shared parenting frequently fails for two basic reasons:

  • The parents are having trouble dealing with the changes as a result of the divorce and are feeling grief. It takes time to accept that the marriage is over. People become angry at what happened and stagnate without getting beyond it.
  • It can be difficult adjusting from marriage to being single again and having to be a parent on top of it. Frustration sets in and this can result in anger and a decision not to comply with the court ordered parenting plan.


Getting Beyond Anger and Sharing Parenting

The parenting plan is simply a guideline that is meant to help the parents organize how they handle their duties. Sharing parenting and getting beyond anger are two steps that will benefit both parents and the children. While parents know that the children should be the focal point, lingering bitterness interferes. If a plan is created with sound reasoning and is easy to follow, it’s more likely to be adhered to.
Contact an Experienced Woodstock Family Lawyer

If you have questions about shared parenting and how to get past anger, an attorney from the Woodstock family law firm can help. Call the Stetler Law Group at (815) 529-4554 today.

How much does a divorce in Illinois cost?

This is often the first question I am asked.  I’ve practiced in McHenry County for a decade now and this is still one of the more difficult questions for me to answer as a lawyer of divorce in Illinois.

The truth is that neither I nor any other divorce lawyer can give you an exact answer most of the time.  Sure, there are situations, where issues are not contested and I can estimate the total time required.  However, there are usually multiple contested issues such as child support, child custody, alimony or maintenance, and division of property and debts.

Factors I discuss when trying to estimate the cost of a divorce in Illinois:

  1. Your attorney’s hourly rate;
  2. What issues are being contested;
  3. Are facts easy to determine or likely to be disputed;
  4. How contentious are you and your spouse;
  5. Is everybody emotionally ready for a divorce;
  6. Is the other attorney known for being unnecessarily combative or ill-prepared;
  7. Are experts such as psychologists, accountants, and appraisers necessary;

I’ve represented clients in divorces for a decade now throughout McHenry County.  The number one factor in determining how expensive your divorce is going to be is how litigious each side plans on being.  If emotions are still raw and one side or the other feels slighted (and is seeking his or her “pound of flesh”) the process can be lengthy and expensive, even if there is virtually nothing to divide.  However, even complex divorces can be relatively inexpensive if everyone is open, honest and truly interested in compromise.  If you are in Woodstock, McHenry, Crystal Lake or any other area of McHenry County and need a divorce lawyer, please contact me for a free initial consultation.


Do I Need A Family Lawyer

A Woodstock Family Lawyer Sheds Light On How To Determine Whether Or Not You Need An Attorney

Not every family can resolve their issues without help. In many cases, the issues grow to the point that help from a Woodstock family lawyer is required. This article discusses some of these situations in order to help you decide when you should consider engaging an attorney.

Spousal Or Child Abuse
Violence on the part of one of the spouses places the other in a position such that decisions are made based on fear of what the abuser will do if the spouse is not compliant. Your Woodstock family law attorney becomes an ally who can represent you and speak for you, sparing you the need to subject yourself to confrontations with a potentially violent person. Your lawyer can also see that you and your children are removed from harm’s way and placed in contact with organizations that can help and support you.

Finding The Common Ground
Couples who are seeking an uncontested divorce must be able to reach a consensus on several important matters. Division of the marital estate, any payments from one spouse to the other such as alimony or child support if children are involved, which parent holds custody of the children, rights of the other to visit, parental responsibilities and other such considerations must be resolved. If a consensus is impossible and an impasse is reached or even if you and your spouse can come to terms, the assistance of an impartial Woodstock family law attorney can help resolve differences or evaluate a settlement once it is achieved.

Investigations And Evidence
The assistance of a Woodstock family lawyer will be necessary if your situation requires that you investigate the possibility of infidelity on the part of your spouse or parental fitness in a custody battle. Your attorney can use legal means to require information from the opposition, can depose witnesses and gather such evidence or documentation as you might need in order to pursue your case.

Meeting The State Mandated Standards
Every case must conform to certain legal specifications set by the state, as in the question of which parent should have custody of minor children. In making this decision the court places the child’s welfare at the forefront with the applicable legal standard being the “best interest of the child.” The court must ascertain which of the two parents is in the best position to successfully care for the children, which is the more reliable parent in terms of maintaining a safe, law-abiding, comfortable, loving household and which can be relied upon to avoid hostility or resentment in dealings with the other parent. After the decision is made it can be altered only if special circumstances arise that provide the court with a valid reason to change or rescind custody.

Keeping An Equal Advantage
If your spouse has retained legal counsel, you should also. Failure to observe any of the myriad details in the legal aspects of your case could have grave if not disastrous consequences. By enlisting the aid of your Woodstock family lawyer you place yourself on an equal footing with your spouse and ensure that you have someone on your side who will act on your behalf.

If You Need Legal Advice
Don’t hesitate to call your Woodstock family lawyer if you are involved in a situation such as any of the above. Contact the Stetler Law Group at (815) 529-4554 today.


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