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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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martial assets, division of property, Illinois Divorce AttorneyDivorce can present an entire spectrum of challenges for any couple, as they must contend with a large number of concerns. Depending on their specific circumstances, they may need to negotiate considerations for their children, determine new living arrangements, and establish an agreement regarding spousal support. Despite the difficulties inherent to any those issues, couples frequently have the most trouble in property division negotiations.

Equitable Distribution

Illinois law concerning divorce requires that, in the absence of a reasonable agreement, the property which constitutes the marital estate is to be divided between divorcing spouses. Unlike some states, however, Illinois property division guidelines require the equitable distribution of marital assets and debt as opposed to equal division. While equitable distribution will be addressed in more detail in a separate post, it essentially means that the property should be divided fairly, not necessarily 50/50, based on the consideration of circumstantial factors.

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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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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 Distribution of Assets

Divorcing is one of the most stressful life events a person can go through. According to the American Psychology Association, divorce is one of the major life events that can have serious psychological implications on both parties. Most divorces, of course, come from an already-stressful marriage. With all sorts of new challenges, such as division of property, the dueling couple might feel completely overwhelmed with the idea of separation. If you’re going through a divorce, there are some important Illinois laws regarding division of property to keep in mind.

According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, in Illinois, "if property was acquired during the marriage there is a presumption that the property is marital." This means that even if the property is solely in your spouse’s name, it’s still considered to be jointly owned. If property was a gift, was acquired before the marriage or after a legal separation, however, it’s not considered to be jointly owned. These, of course, are important exceptions to keep in mind before even considering divorce.

Another important asset division concept pertinent to keep in mind before filing for divorce is the issue of inheritance. If one spouse receives an inheritance during the marriage, if he or she mingles this inheritance in joint funds or invests it in joint property, the inheritance is considered part of the marital estate, and no longer considered individual property.

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