According to the Chicago Tribune, the New Year historically brings about a fresh surge of divorce filings in and around the Chicago area. The notion of New Year, New me, causes many people to re-evaluate their marriages and seek a new beginning and fresh start for the new year.
Not only is the idea of a new year, a fresh start, the perfect time to start thinking about starting the divorce process, it is also the perfect time to file from a financial perspective. One of the biggest aspects in every divorce is financial (especially as it relates to whether you or your spouse is entitled to either maintenance (formerly known as alimony) or child support). In Illinois, maintenance and child support are most commonly calculated (absent an agreement by the parties as to amount and duration) using Family Law Software (“FLS”). Family Law Software is a program used by attorneys and Judges alike and uses both parties’ incomes as well as a few other items (i.e., parenting time for child support, who pays for children’s medical insurance, deductions, etc.) to produce the statutory obligation of both parties. With both of these calculations relying in large part on each parties’ respective incomes, the start of the new year is often the best time to calculate these issues as each parties end of the year documents (year-end pay statements, W2s, 1099’s, tax returns) will allow for the most accurate and all-inclusive calculations.
In every divorce filing in Illinois, both parties are required to complete and exchange Financial Affidavits, which outlines, in full, each party’s assets and liabilities. The start of the new year can also be the best time to file for divorce, as it is a good time for each party to take a full and complete inventory of their respective and joint assets and liabilities. If you are contemplating a divorce filing, we recommend that in preparation for the same, you take a full inventory of all of your assets (i.e., real estate, vehicles, financial account, pension and retirement accounts, stock/securities account, business interest, life insurance, jewelry, art, etc.) and liabilities (i.e., medical debt, credit cards, loans, student loan debt, etc.) held in the previous year and anything already acquired in the new year. This is also the perfect time of year to gather any and all documents related to your assets and liabilities as they can help to create a full and accurate financial picture in preparation for divorce.
Another reason to benefit to starting the divorce process now is that in can directly impact your federal tax filing moving forward. While you will still have to claim your filing status as either “married filing jointly” or “married filing separately” for the 2022 tax year (filing in 2023), starting the divorce process now can impact your filing for the 2023 next year. Regardless of how you have historically filed, starting the divorce process can allow you to file as an unmarried person for 2023, if your divorce is processed prior to December 31, 2023. Therefore, if your filing status can make a significant impact on your taxes, you should consider starting the divorce process now to safeguard you in subsequent years.
Considering a fresh start? The first step is to consult with an experienced divorce attorney in Chicago who can help protect your interests and get you started on the right path. The attorneys at Ward Family Law, LLC are committed to helping you get the fresh start you deserve.
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