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Lombard divorce lawyersEveryone knows that when you get divorced, your ex-spouse gets half of everything—unless you have a prenuptial agreement. That is just the way it works, right? Well, not exactly. Not in Illinois anyway, along with about 40 other states. The idea of an equal 50-50 split applies only to the nine states that maintain a standard known as community property in divorce. The remaining states, including Illinois, use what is called an equitable distribution standard, which may vary slightly from state to state, but generally requires a more in-depth consideration of a divorcing couple’s property and circumstances.

Determining and Valuing the Marital Estate

The equitable distribution guidelines in Illinois are contained in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. The process begins with establishing which assets belong to the couple and which belong to each individual spouse. Those that belong to the couple include all property acquired by either spouse during the marriage with limited exceptions for gifts, inheritances, and judgments. Assets owned by either spouse prior to the marriage, along with the exceptions to marital property, are non-marital property and not subject to division. The value of the marital estate must also be determined, which may require the assistance of various experts, including real estate appraisers, financial advisors, and other professionals.

Considerations for Equitable Distribution

Once the marital estate has been established and valuated, the court must make a determination regarding the portion of the estate to be allocated to each party. In doing so, the court is required by law to take into account:

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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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Lombard family law attorneyWhen you are going through a divorce, it is a reasonable to wonder how you and your spouse will divide the property that you have accumulated during the course of your marriage. For many couples, in fact, disputes regarding the division of assets are among the most contentious in the entire divorce process. If you and your spouse are not able to reach an agreement regarding your property, the court will rely on provisions in the law to determine which of you will be receiving what.

Not Necessarily Equal

Illinois is an equitable distribution state, which means there is not legal presumption that marital property should be divided equally. Rather than a guaranteed 50-50 split, equitable distribution holds that the marital estate must be divided in a manner that is reasonable and fair, based on the circumstances of the marriage and divorce. This means that every situation is unique and must be considered individually by the court.

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intellectual property, Illinois law, Lombard divorce attorneysDuring a divorce most people think about how things like the cars, real estate, and retirement accounts will be divided between the spouses. But, as our society becomes increasingly information driven, another major category of property to be split is intellectual property. This can include everything from copyrights and trademarks to patents and trade secrets.

When Is Intellectual Property Considered Marital Property?

Illinois law has a broad scope of what is considered marital property. The presumption is that all property acquired during the marriage, that was not an individual gift or inheritance, is marital property. This includes typical types of personal property and real estate as well as intellectual property.

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Posted on in Divorce

after a divorce, divorce, Illinois divorce attorneysAfter a divorce is finalized you can feel worn out. Even when a divorce was amicable, the emotions involved can take a toll. But, after you receive the final paperwork from the court, you still have a few things to set in order. Failure to make a few changes to your estate planning documents, taxes, and retirement accounts now could have disastrous consequences later.

Estate Planning

Often, spouses list each other as the beneficiary on a variety of documents without even thinking about it. After you are divorced, you need to go and make sure all those beneficiary designations are changed from your now ex-spouse to someone else.

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equitable distribution, Illinois law, Lombard property division lawyersThe short answer to that question is no. More accurately, the answer is not necessarily. Dividing property during divorce is a bit more complicated than simply splitting the marital estate in half. In fact, the word "half" does not appear anywhere in the statute governing the allocation of assets in the state. Instead, Illinois law is based on the principles of equitable distribution which look to justly allocate marital property based on the consideration of a number of factors.

Community Property States

The basis for most people’s assumption of splitting property in half is the community property concept currently in place in nine states, including Wisconsin, California, and Texas. These principles maintain that, in marriage, both partners equally own all marital assets and that each is entitled to half upon divorce. This applies regardless of employment considerations, contributions to the marriage or family, or any other seemingly relevant concerns. In many cases, spousal maintenance or alimony awards are used to compensate for such considerations.

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equitable distribution, asset division, Kane County Divorce lawyersFor a large number of divorcing couples, property division is among the most challenging aspects of the entire divorce process. Of course, much of the difficulty depends on how long a couple was married and how much property they accumulated during the marriage. Couples with few or no assets of significant value may be able reach an agreement rather easily, while couples with more complex concerns may end up having to finalize their arrangement through court proceedings. When the court gets involved, the division of property in divorce is governed by the state’s equitable distribution guidelines.

Determining and Valuating the Marital Estate

Prior to the application of equitable distribution principles, the court and the couple must establish what is to be considered marital property. A previous post covered marital and non-marital assets in greater detail, but, in short, marital property is any property acquired by either spouse during the marriage, with certain exceptions for assets such as gifts or inheritances.

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hidden assetsWhen a couple divorces, there are a number of issues to be considered. Spousal maintenance, child support, custody/visitation, and division of assets must all be negotiated to an extent by the court presiding over the proceedings. Many of these subjects can often turn contentious, as the relationship between divorcing partners deteriorates. This, unfortunately, can lead to one party to manipulate the circumstances in such a way that the divorce agreement disproportionately benefits that person. One way in which this might be attempted is by hiding financial or other assets from the other spouse.

Hiding assets can be serious problem, as many determinations in a divorce agreement are dependent on the financial situation of each spouse. Often including cash, bonds, mutual funds, stocks, and bonds, assets which are not disclosed to the court may affect resulting orders related to alimony (called spousal maintenance in Illinois) and child support. As such, a spouse intentionally hiding or disguising financial resources not only commits a serious crime, but also can negatively the impact the well-being the couple’s children.

In many marriages, one partner maintains the majority of the household finances. That partner, often the husband, keeps a household budget, pays the bills, and may even make financial decisions about purchases and investments. While the other partner may not feel the need to get deeply involved, a situation can be created in which it can be easy and tempting for the partner with monetary control to be deceptive and hide assets.

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equitable property divisionIllinois, like the majority of states in this country, is not a community property state when it comes to dividing up the marital estate during a divorce. Instead, the decision is based on "equitable distribution" of a couple’s assets. Equitable distribution does not mean assets are split in half, with each spouse receiving 50 percent. Instead, it is the court who decides what an equitable and fair division is.

In some cases, spouses are able to negotiate an agreement between themselves, or with the help of their attorneys, and the judge’s signature is a formality needed to make the agreement legal. In many other cases, however, a judge is the one who makes the decision of what is an equitable distribution based on the evidence each spouse introduces into trial.

There are several factors a judge will consider when making his or her decision. These factors include:

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divorce yard sale, garage sale, property division, divorce, Illinois divorce lawyerOne of the most acrimonious parts of a divorce can be the negotiations regarding how the marital assets are going to be divided. Even the friendliest of divorces can suddenly turn nasty over a piece of who is going to get a certain piece of furniture, book collection, paintings, etc.

The NY Daily News recently reported a story about one divorcing couple who, after a few years of fighting over how several hundred dollars’ worth of items should be divided between the two of them, are holding a "divorce yard sale." The couple will be auctioning off furniture, cars, clothing, jewelry, paintings and antiques. Selling off items that are part of a marital estate and splitting the proceeds is not uncommon. It is not only for people who are involved in high-asset divorce cases. Any couple who has items that they jointly own may decide to sell those items if they cannot reach an agreement as to who should retain ownership of which items. Depending on the value and number of the items you are looking to sell, there are several options to getting the most amount of money for your items. If you have antiques to sell, then you should contact an antiques appraiser/dealer to find out what the worth of these items is. A dealer may also be able to help find a buyer for the items. It is also probably in your best interest to have the items appraised by more than one dealer. If you have many items to sell, contact estate sale company to coordinate the sale. These companies will help coordinate how your items are marketed, selling large ticket items separately and dividing the smaller items into "lots" which multiple items sold together. Consignment shops are a great place to sell items like clothing and smaller household items, such cookware and decorating items. If you would rather not have to deal with transporting these items to the shop, there are online sites where you can also post these items for sale. On Ebay.com, your item is posted for a limited amount of time and interested parties can bid on it, just like in an auction. At the end of the auction – typically 3 to 5 days – the highest bidder wins the item. All transactions are done online and delivery is done through shipping.

Locally, Craigslist.com allows  you to list the items you have for sale online and determine cost and delivery/pickup method. It’s similar to having an online yard sale by putting you in touch with people who may be interested in your property.

However you decide to divide up your marital estate, make sure you have an experienced Lombard family law attorney representing you to ensure that you get what you are entitled to.

If you and your spouse have discussed the possibility of divorce or you perceive that separation is imminent, it may be a good idea to pay attention to your marital financial portfolio. In some relationships, one spouse manages financial matters for the family, but the other spouse should stay well-informed about marital assets and debts.

 marital assetsUnder the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, an equitable split of marital assets is required in a divorce. Equitable refers to dividing marital property fairly and looking at several factors such as contributions, marital agreements, economic conditions, and marriage duration. When one spouse hides assets, an equitable solution is harder to obtain, but entirely possible when working with a knowledgeable divorce firm.

Five Red Flags for Hidden Marital Assets

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Posted on in Divorce

In any relationship, there can be ups and downs.  Being in close proximity, such as in a marriage, can exacerbate a volatile situation.  It is difficult to seek a resolution in the heat of the moment.  Certain scenarios may mean that separation is merely a precursor to finalizing a divorce or it can be a start to reconciliation.

There are different types of separation, each of which has specific ramifications.  The first type is just living separately.  Living apart can mean in different houses or even separate parts of the mutual home.  Debts and assets accrued by either party during this kind of separation are considered part of the marital estate.  During a divorce all property and debts are divided according to equitable distribution guidelines of Illinois divorce court.  This can also be seen as a trial separation to decide whether to reconcile or separate completely.

Another kind of separation is called a legal separation.  This is for couples who have irreconcilable differences but may not want to divorce for religious reasons.  A legal separation is filed for in a divorce court.  The court will decide on issues like child custody, child support, spousal maintenance, visitation and division of property.  The only aspect that a legal separation does not achieve is a divorce.  Both spouses are still married.

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People often consider pets to be family members.  That deep affection means that cats and dogs can be sore subjects during divorce cases.  Who should have custody of the family pet when they family has split?  The fact is that legally, pets are often looked at as property when dividing assets during a divorce.  There are certain facts that can be influence the decision of where Fido ends up.

The owner of the pet is often given precedence in any pet custody case.  It is similar to the determination of separate property or marital property.   If the pet was purchased before the marriage, then it may be considered a separate asset not subject to division.  But the initial purchase won’t be the only way to pay for a pet; there are also considerations about who pays for the pet&s food and medical expenses.

The other way that custody is decided is based on who provides care for the animal, much like when determining child custody.  That could mean that the person who takes the animal to the vet or the person who takes the animal for walks can have an easier time claiming pet custody.  Another way to show who the primary caregiver of a pet is who cares for the animal during the split.

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LucyIllinois is an equitable distribution state, which means that marital property will not necessarily be divided equally, but it will be divided fairly. In the instance of property distribution, all property that either spouse gains during the marriage is included in marital property. This property will be divided without considering marital misconduct of either spouse, although these factors will be considered:

  • The duration of the marriage
  • The contribution of each spouse to the marriage, including property, the family unit, and being a homemaker
  • The indulgence of the shared and individual property of each spouse
  • The value of property that has been assigned to each spouse
  • Whether the property will be addition or included along with maintenance
  • The age, health, vocational skills, liabilities, occupation, estate, amount and source of income, station and needs of each spouse
  • Custodial arrangements of the children
  • Post-nuptial agreements
  • Obligations and rights that may arise due to prior marriages of either spouse
  • Any relevant economic circumstances that may affect property such as the desirability of keeping the family home and having custody of the children
  • The tax consequences that may occur due to the division of any properties for either spouse

Non-marital property includes:

  • Anything acquired by either spouse by gift, descent or legacy
  • Anything acquired by exchange for property before the marriage or after the marriage began, but in exchange for property that was acquired by gift, descent or legacy
  • Property acquired by either spouse after a legal separation judgment
  • Any property acquired before the marriage
  • Any property that has been excluded by both spouses with a valid agreement

If you are going through a divorce or soon will be, contact a divorce attorney for assistance with your property distribution. A. Traub & Associates can assist you in Lombard, Ill. today.

Starting a business is a very arduous task.  For a long time, there is no end to the struggles to bring services or goods to consumers and finding your marketplace.  Time and resources are spent to make a business a success and a divorce can tear it asunder.

A marriage is a contractual agreement that states that each spouse is entitled to jointly gained assets.  This is essentially the difference between separate property and marital property.  In some cases, a spouse can expect nearly half of a business after a divorce as determined by length of marriage, involvement in the business, and the spouse’s earning potential after a divorce.

If either spouse has spent their time creating a valuable asset such as a business, it is essential to know how to protect it, most likely through a prenuptial agreement or other business agreements.  A prenuptial agreement serves as an outline of the outcome of an unforeseen dissolution.  It will delineate the property and asset distribution and also for the protection of a business.  But like most contracts it needs to meet certain criteria to be considered valid by the divorce court.

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Posted on in Divorce

In most divorces, there are a multitude of different concerns which must be settled. Child custody might be the focal point in some cases.  Other times, the division of assets is the pivotal concern.  Most of these issues can be tackled in two separate ways, either emotionally or rationally.  The latter is the appropriate way to think about whether or not you should keep the house in a divorce.

The first step in answering the question about keeping the house in a divorce is to examine the financial specifics of the house.  How much is still due on the mortgage?  Would you be able to make monthly payments in order to keep the house?  What about other upkeep expenses to maintain the house?

Then it is essential to understand how your personal finances will be affected by owning a house separately from your ex.  It will be beneficial to refinance the debt on your house but it might be difficult to do with only one income.  Not only will you have to settle with the bank but your spouse will need to be reimbursed for their portion of the property.  This can be accomplished in most cases by exchanging a retirement or investment account.

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A small business is more than just an asset to the owners; it generates income, but also is a physical representation of hard work and dedication that you have put into the business.

Divorce can be a very big threat to a small business. With the right strategies and help from the right people, however, you can ensure that your business survives the divorce and remains strong long afterward.

Strategy #1: Getting an accurate and complete business estimate is essential

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