I Am Divorced…Now What? The Top 10 Steps To Take To Safeguard Your Financial Future

Once you have gone through the divorce process and are formally divorced, there are still many steps that can and should be taken to protect yourself. The following is a list of the top ten (10) actions you should take after your divorce has been finalized:

1. The Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage is the document that formally grants the divorce. Keep this document handy to verify to all pertinent institutions that you are actually divorced. Many places require a certified copy which usually has a special raised seal. Make sure you obtain one as part of your divorce process or ask your attorney to get one for you.

2. Unless otherwise required in your Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage, close all joint credit cards, bank accounts, financial accounts and the like. Additionally, remove your former spouse’s access to any and all accounts in your name. You do not want your former spouse to continue to access accounts, withdraw funds or make charges.

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Pet Custody Comes to Illinois

Companion animals, commonly referred to as “pets”, play an ever-increasing role in American society. US pet industry expenditures were $38.5 billion in 2006 and nearly doubled to $66.75 billion in 2016. According to the 2017-2018 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 68% of US households own a pet, equating to 84.6 million homes.

The strong emotional bond that binds people to their pets is undeniable, and it is a bond that courts and legislatures throughout the country are increasingly recognizing. California Supreme Court Justice Arabian, in his dissenting opinion in Nahrsted v. Lakeside Village Condominium Ass’n, 8 Cal. 4th 361, 390 (1994), summarized it as follows:

The value of pets in daily life is a matter of common knowledge and understanding as well as extensive documentation. People of all ages, but particularly the elderly and the young, enjoy their companionship . . . Animals provide comfort at the death of a family member or dear friend, and for the lonely can offer a reason for living when life seems to have lost its meaning . . . Families benefit from the experience of sharing that having a pet encourages.

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Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago 30th Anniversary Gala

Matthew Pruyn, Financial Advisor from Robert W. Baird & Co. and Adam Miel Zebelian, Associate at Schiller DuCanto & Fleck LLP

On July 27, 2017, the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago (“LAGBAC”) celebrated its 30th Anniversary by welcoming over 200 guests to a gala held at the Peninsula Chicago Hotel. LAGBAC is one of the oldest Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (“LGBTQ”) bar associations in the country and the first LGBTQ bar association to identify as such in its name. LAGBAC supports and strengthens the LGBTQ legal community by providing networking opportunities; continuing legal education; student grants and scholarships; mentoring to young lawyers and students; and evaluating judicial candidates for office.

The weather was perfect for the outdoor evening rooftop cocktail reception. The highlight of the cocktail party was a bagpipe procession from the rooftop deck into the dining room led by LAGBAC board member, Gavin Quinn. Between courses, LAGBAC Foundation President Jeremy Gottschalk, LAGBAC President Judge Cecilia Horan, State Representative Gregory Harris, and Deputy Mayor Andrea Zopp called to mind the humble beginnings of the organization and recognized the magnificent progress made by both LAGBAC and the LGBTQ community since the organization was founded in 1987. Although it was a night to celebrate, no one in attendance lost sight of the   fact there is much more work to be done in support of LGBTQ rights; especially supporting and fighting for our transgender brothers and sisters.

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LGBTQ Health Care Issues on the Horizon

One of the issues that many people must consider when going through a divorce is health care costs.  How do you even begin to navigate what you should anticipate for health care costs going forward, especially with the possible reality that obtaining health insurance might be more difficult and expensive then you ever imagined?  Under the current administration, these challenges are heightened for those in the midst of a same-sex divorce, as uncertainty about the continuation of the Affordable Care Act “ACA” has left many people, especially those within the LGBTQ community, concerned.  The concerns are warranted.  The current Republican proposed legislation in both the House and Senate could have significant consequences for the LGBTQ community, as the legislation will directly impact the way LGBTQ Americans access health care through the individual market place.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, LGBTQ people are three times more likely to suffer from mental illness then others. The stress associated with the fear of coming out to loved ones and the discrimination the LGBTQ community faces at large can understandably play a large role in depression, anxiety and other mental illness.  Under the proposed legislation, depression and other mental health issues could likely qualify as a preexisting condition and trigger higher health care prices for obtaining treatment.

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The Background and History of Pride Month

Schiller DuCanto & Fleck LLP is committed to gender identity and sexual orientation equality and diversity.  The firm has represented many LGBTQ couples in a variety of family law cases, created an LGBTQ committee and conducts and hosts ongoing educational programs regarding LGBTQ issues. This is the first of a series of blogs regarding LGBTQ history, legal issues, and our evolving landscape.

In Chicago, LGBTQ Pride Month has evolved to include more than just the parade that many may associate with it. In addition to the parade, there are nearly 100 other events that take place in the city throughout June, including speakers, workshops, concerts, plays, and even 5K runs. 1

National LGBTQ Month, othwerise known as Pride Month, is celebrated by millions of people worldwide each June. Its origin can be traced to June 28, 1969 at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York, where a group of LGBTQ patrons resisted a raid by the police, who had targeted patrons on the basis of their sexual orientation. 2

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Legalizing Recreational Marijuana in Illinois

iStock_000021325411XSmall-02Attitudes toward recreational marijuana use are continuing to evolve, with the idea becoming more and more acceptable to more and more people.  In fact, the push to legalize marijuana on a recreational level continues in Illinois.  On Wednesday, March 22, 2017, two state lawmakers from the City of Chicago’s North Side, Rep. Kelly Cassidy and Sen. Heather Steans, introduced legislation that they are sponsoring (Senate Bill 316 and House Bill 2353) which would legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Illinois.  (The House Bill has since gained seven additional sponsors, and the Senate Bill has gained an additional six sponsors).  This legislation would be known as the Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act.

The goals of the legislation would be to allow law enforcement to “focus on violent and property crimes,” as well as “generating revenue for education and other public purposes, and individual freedom.”  The bill suggests that Cannabis ought to be “regulated in a manner similar to alcohol.”  If that truly is the intent, it will be interesting to see how judges hearing divorce cases will treat it when it comes to parenting issues.

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Same Sex Marriage and the Possible Correlation with Decreases in Teen Suicide Rates

Tie The Knot With Rings Gay MarriageIn 2015, Obergefell v. Hodges held that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution. Obergefell provides a date in which same-sex married couples residing in states that had not previously allowed same-sex marriage may now use as an applicable official date of marriage. Post-Obergefell, all states must grant same-sex marriages and recognize same-sex marriages granted in other states.

For many couples across the United States, the Obergefell decision was a victory for marriage equality. What may have been suspected, but no one knew definitively at the time, was exactly how much of an emotional benefit legalizing same sex marriage would have on our nation’s youth. In fact, since the Obergefell decision, research conducted by Julia Raifman, a post-doctoral fellow at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, has come to light showing a significant decrease in teen suicide attempts in the U.S. post Obergefell, with the biggest impact amongst gay, lesbian and bisexual kids. This is noteworthy because according to the Trevor Project, an organization that works to prevent suicide among LGBT youth, “Suicide is the 10th-leading cause of death in the U.S. and the second for people aged 10 to 24, with queer teens statistically are more than four times as likely to attempt suicide as their straight peers.”

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Five Tax Considerations When Divorcing

tax form with calculator, money and pen

Whether you are in the process of getting divorced or are considering filing for divorce, there are a five (5) tax considerations you should be aware of as you move forward.  As we are in the midst of tax season it is the perfect time to consider these tax issues to avoid potential pitfalls.

1.  Hidden Taxes and Property Settlements: The transfer of assets between spouses incident to a divorce generally results in no tax consequences to either party. However, depending on the basis you/your spouse have in certain assets, there may be hidden tax consequences associated with the sale of assets such as real estate, investment holdings and business interests. These tax consequences may ultimately reduce the actual value of an asset that otherwise appears to be worth more at first glance.

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Navigating Health Care Costs in Divorce

Health insurance form and dollars on the table.

If you are wondering what will happen to your health insurance coverage upon divorce, you are not alone.  It is no secret that the cost of individual coverage is rising, and uncertainty about the continuation of the Affordable Care Act “Obamacare” post-election has left many people concerned, especially those with pre-existing conditions.

The latest estimates, as reported by the Chicago Tribune, are that Illinois rates will increase by an average of 44 percent for the lowest-priced individual bronze plans, 45 percent for the lowest-priced silver plans and 55 percent for the lowest-priced gold plans.  Higher-level plans, such as gold plans, typically have higher monthly costs and lower out-of-pocket costs than lower-level plans.

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Domestic Violence: A Necessary Recap of the Basics

Purple ribbon campaign for Stop Domestic Violence campaign made from word illustration isolated on white background

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.   In spite of the help and information available to victims of domestic violence, and the increased awareness by law enforcement about what abuse looks like and how to address it, domestic violence has not disappeared.  It therefore bears repeating what many already know about this topic and some of the legal remedies available to victims.  If this information causes even one victim to seek a way out of an abusive relationship, then the repetition is invaluable.

Domestic violence does not always look the way that one might think, and its victims do not either.  Family law attorneys see abuse in all forms, physical, emotional and financial, and in victims from every race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and socioeconomic group.  At its core, domestic violence is an abuse of power in an intimate relationship.

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