When going through a divorce in Illinois, there are two main issues you need to address, and four if you have children from your marriage. These are: (i) property division, (ii) spousal support, (iii) child support, and (iv) child custody (or “parenting time”). However, while these are certainly the bigger issues involved in getting divorced (and the importance of devoting sufficient time and attention to these issues cannot be overstated), there are many other issues that most divorcing (or divorced) spouses will need to address as well.
Generally speaking, it will be best to address these issues during your divorce. If you can’t get to them during your divorce, you will want to get to them as soon after your divorce as possible. In any case, as with the “main” issues listed above, it will be in your best interests to seek guidance from an experienced Illinois divorce attorney.
7 Commonly-Overlooked Issues Related to Getting Divorced in Illinois
1. Life Insurance and Bank Account Beneficiary Designations
If you have life insurance coverage through work or under a policy that you purchased through an insurance agent, the chances are that your policy designates your spouse as the primary beneficiary. Unless you still want this to be the case after your divorce (and, the chances are that you don’t), you will need to select a different primary beneficiary. If you have access to your policy online, you might be able to do this yourself. If not, you will need to contact your human resources (HR) representative or insurance agent for assistance.
The same is true with regard to your bank accounts, retirement accounts, brokerage accounts, and any other financial accounts you own. When you established these accounts, you most likely designated a beneficiary who would be entitled to take ownership of the account in the event of your death; and, if you were married at the time, you most likely designated your spouse. If you will be keeping these accounts after your divorce, you will want to be sure to update your beneficiary designations here as well.
2. Account Names and Passwords
Does your spouse know the login information for your bank accounts? Social media accounts? What about Google Play, iTunes, Netflix, or Amazon Prime? Even if you think your spouse might know your account names and passwords, it is a good idea to change your login information in connection with your divorce. After your divorce, the last thing you want is your spouse accessing your social media or using your credit cards to rack up charges on your account.
3. Utilities and Cell Phone Plans
In the same regard, you will want to make sure that your spouse is completely off of your utility accounts and cell phone plans, and vice versa. If you need to make changes, you do not want to discover that your former spouse is still listed as the “primary account holder,” or that you need some piece of information from him or her in order to move forward. Conversely, if your spouse falls behind on his or her payments after your divorce, you do not want to be held jointly liable for any post-divorce debts he or she incurs.
4. Emergency Contact Information
If your spouse is listed as your emergency contact at work, at your doctor’s office, or anywhere else, this is something you will want to change in connection with your divorce as well. While this may seem like a fairly minor issue in context, you do not want to put it off. This could lead to very undesirable consequences in the off chance that you get sick or injured before you get around to designating a new emergency contact.
With regard to your children, however, the issue needs to be handled differently. While you may be tempted to remove your spouse’s name from any emergency contact information for your children, this is an issue that needs to be formally addressed during the divorce process. The right to make decisions regarding your children’s medical care is an aspect of “legal custody,” and establishing legal custody during a divorce requires court approval.
5. Your Estate Plan
Under Illinois law, certain aspects of your estate plan are automatically voided when you get divorced. However, this does not necessarily mean that your estate plan will automatically reflect your final wishes. In fact, in many circumstances, it can lead to some pretty undesirable consequences. If you have a will, revocable trust, power of attorney, health care surrogate, or any other estate planning documents that name your spouse in any capacity, you will want to revise them during or shortly after your divorce.
6. Tax Withholding and Filing Status
If you checked the “married” box when you submitted your W-4 to your employer, you will need to change this in order to have your withholdings reflect your new “single” status. When you file your state and federal income taxes at the end of the year, you will need to make sure that you select the appropriate filing status as well. If you are changing your name in connection with your divorce, you will need to notify the Social Security Administration (SSA) so that you can properly file your taxes under your new name as well.
7. How to Enforce Your Legal Rights
Finally, when going through a divorce, it is important to speak with your attorney to make sure you know what you need to do if you need to enforce your legal rights post-divorce. Unfortunately, former spouses sometimes violate the terms of their divorce decrees – intentionally or unintentionally – and this can create problems for everyone involved. There are clear legal remedies under Illinois law, and there are various strategies that can be used to amicably resolve disputes as well. An experienced divorce attorney will be able to help you develop a plan to take action if and when necessary.
Contact Gurnee, IL Divorce Lawyer Deanna J. Bowen
Are you thinking about filing for divorce? If so, we encourage you to get in touch. To schedule a free initial consultation with Gurnee, IL divorce lawyer Deanna J. Bowen, call 847-623-4002 or contact us online today.