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Lombard divorce attorneysWhen a couple is getting divorced in Illinois, the law provides that all of the couple’s marital property should be divided in a manner that is fair and just. To determine a “fair and just” allocation of assets, the court will take many factors into account, including each spouse’s age, health, and employability, as well as their contributions to the marital estate. The court must also consider any claims made by either spouse against the other regarding dissipation of marital assets.

What Is Dissipation?

The Illinois Supreme Court established a definition for dissipation as “the use of marital property for the sole benefit of one of the spouses for a purpose unrelated to the marriage at a time that the marriage is undergoing an irretrievable breakdown.” Over the years, the state legislature has alternated between including and excluding non-marital property in its definition of dissipation. The most recent version of the law provides that only marital property can be dissipated.

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Lombard family law attorneysIt is certainly not uncommon for divorcing spouses to fight over money. In many situations, finances are the only issue that keeps the divorce process ongoing—often for many months or even years. A large number of such cases include high-net-worth couples with significant assets and business interests, which can be very complicated to divide fairly. Other cases, however, involve one spouse hiding or obfuscating assets so that he or she will not lose them during the divorce.

Manipulating the System

Illinois law requires each spouse to make a full financial disclosure during the divorce process so that all marital property can be divided equitably. Too often, one spouse will attempt to leave certain assets or revenue streams out of his or her disclosure so that they will be “safe” from division during the divorce. This type of behavior defies the intent of the law regarding equitable distribution and is taken very seriously by the courts.

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property settlement, Lombard family law attorneysNo matter how much—or how little—you and your spouse may own, figuring out who should get what during a divorce is probably not going to be easy. You may find that you both have an attachment to certain assets, such as the family home or a particular car, which may not lend themselves well to being divided between the two of you. Regardless of how divorce may be presented in movies and on television, yours does not need to be played out with open hostility in a courtroom brawl. Instead, you can develop an agreement that recognizes the contributions made by both you and your spouse to the marriage and allocates your property in a way that meets everyone’s needs.

Inventory Your Assets

The first step toward a workable property settlement is understanding what is to be included. This means taking stock of everything you own and owe. Assets include real estate, vehicles, furniture, business holdings, investments, and, of course, cash savings, among many others. Debts are also important part of the agreement, as they can follow both of you for years to come if they are not properly addressed.

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marital debt, Lombard family law attorneysAdjusting to life after a divorce can be challenging. One of the hardest things can be learning to deal with the new financial picture, especially any new debts you may have acquired as part of the divorce.

Setting a Budget

Family courts not only have the authority to divide the marital assets, but they may also be tasked with dividing the marital debts. This may mean you have less disposable income than you did before the divorce. It is important that you carefully review your finances early on and set up a realistic budget.

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high net-worth, wealthy couple, Arlington Heights family law attorneyDivorce is often a complex mix of anger, resentment, and heartbreak. But, when you also have to deal with complicated financial holdings, business, and asset valuation, it can make the situation even more volatile. High net-worth divorces have issues not found in most other family law cases.

Finding, Valuing, and Understanding the Assets

Most high net-worth individuals hold a variety of different asset classes. Many of the assets are not held personally by the couple, but instead are in different holding companies or tied up in various business and investment structures. One of the challenges in a high net-worth divorce is finding all of the assets. It is not unusual for one spouse to try and hide assets.

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