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DuPage County family law lawyersFinancial and property considerations can be a very complicated part of the divorce process. It is often difficult to determine who should get what and how much is fair based on the specific circumstances of the case. For many couples, the concepts of dividing marital assets and spousal maintenance might seem like two, very separate ideas. In reality, they are often very closely related, and in many cases, decisions regarding one directly affects the other.

Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance, or alimony as it is sometimes called, is intended to help a financially-disadvantaged spouse ease some of the economic impact of a divorce and a post-divorce life. To determine if maintenance is needed, in the absence of an agreement between the spouses, the court must take into account a number of factors regarding the marriage and divorce. These include each spouse’s income and needs, as well as their contributions to the marriage and toward the earning capacity of the other. The court will also consider the length of the marriage and the standard of living that was established.

Property Division

Similarly, when the division of marital property is left to the court, the circumstances of the marriage and divorce must also be weighed carefully. The court must take into account—again—the income and needs of each spouse, as well as any claims of dissipation, which spouse wishes to remain in the marital home, and any provisions regarding the couple’s children.

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Lombard divorce lawyersThe process of property division is often a challenging part of any divorce. However, when high net worth comes into the equation, things can get extremely complex and very contentious. It is a good idea to engage a qualified attorney to help guide you and your soon-to-be-former spouse through with a minimum of trouble.

“High Net Worth” Defined

The term “high net worth” divorce is actually somewhat of a misnomer, because a couple does not necessarily have to be particular wealthy to fit this category in divorce law. Rather, they must have assets that can be complex to divide; it just so  happens that in many instances, complex assets include many that are extremely valuable. Not everyone has assets such as specific types of retirement accounts, antiques, or complicated investments, and it can require more skill and time to handle them effectively.

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Lombard divorce attorneysAsset distribution is a part of nearly every Illinois divorce, and it has unique potential to cause arguments and misunderstandings. Nowhere is this more common than in attempting to distribute assets with significant sentimental value. Both spouses may wish to retain an asset like a piece of art or jewelry that has good memories associated with it, and it can very often devolve into a fight over who will keep the item.

When, How, and Why?

The little details can make a difference. For example, the date, or rough date, of acquisition can often decide who actually has ownership of the item. If you or your spouse acquired the item before your marriage, it is your (or your spouse’s) property, with no obligation to share it. Illinois law holds that nonmarital property encompasses all that you owned before your marriage, unless you actively take the step of making it marital property. For example, if you own a parcel of land before your marriage, and sign half the interest over to your spouse, that land would qualify as marital property, because you took the affirmative step of involving your spouse in its administration.

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Lombard divorce attorneysThe practice of forensic accounting is based on the idea that careful analysis and investigation can reveal potential problems or concerns regarding the financial situation of the individual, business, or entity in question. Forensic accountants, for example, are employed by law enforcement agencies—including the FBI—to investigate white-collar crime. They may also play a role in divorce cases—especially when the couple’s finances are complex and hidden assets could present a problem.

The Problem of Hidden Assets

Illinois law requires the marital estate of a divorcing couple to be divided between spouses in a manner that is fair and equitable. The first step in dividing marital property is determining what assets the couple owns. If both spouses are not completely open and honest regarding their finances, determining the actual extent of the marital estate will be impossible. Too often, spouse will try to hide sources of revenue or even tangible assets during a divorce hoping to keep them from his or her soon-to-be ex-partner. Hidden assets may be a particular danger if one spouse maintains full control over the couple’s finances or if a spouse owns a business that could be used to cover deceptive behavior.

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Posted on in Division of Property

DuPage County divorce lawyersMaybe he is your best hunting companion, spending countless hours together in the woods or tracking game. Maybe she likes to curl up on your lap while you watch television or against your body while you sleep. Companion animals like dogs and cats play such a significant role in the everyday lives of millions of people. You would never consider taking your leafblower hunting nor would you want to cuddle up with a set of silverware and cup of hot cocoa. However, if you are going through a divorce, most states recognize companion animals simply as property, no different than the household items in these impractical examples.

Working Together

Communication and compromise are important tools for any divorcing couple when making arrangements for parental responsibilities and the division of property. Placing a dispute in the hands of the court to decide can lead to contentious hearings and an outcome that leaves one or both partners unhappy. When custody of pets is at issue, however, compromise is even more imperative. While there are some small signs of change around the country, most courts are not nearly as concerned with a pet’s best interest as they are with that of a child.

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dissipation, wasting assets, Illinois family law attorneyOnce a couple has decided to separate or divorce, there will obviously be some expected costs. Often, the separation period currently required under Illinois law will force one spouse to find a new place, incurring expenses for rent, utilities, and day-to-day living. You and your soon-to-be ex may also spend money on counseling services, legal fees, and other incidentals, in preparation of or in reaction to the process of divorce. Sometimes, however, one or both spouses will use marital funds for other purposes while the dissolution is pending, which may be considered dissipation, depending on the circumstances.

Dissipated Assets

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers defines dissipation as "the use of marital property or funds for the benefit of one spouse for a purpose unrelated to the marriage." The caveat is that, in order to be dissipation, such use must occur while the marital relationship is irreconcilably breaking down, or after it has broken down completely. For example, a spouse in the midst of an otherwise healthy marriage who spends money on a lavish vacation with his or her friends may be guilty of misusing family money, but not dissipation. That same vacation taken as the marriage is falling apart may, in fact, be dissipation.

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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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Hidden assets, Property Division, Divorce FinancesIn any divorce situation, division of property is an extremely important consideration. Whether accomplished by means of an agreement between spouses or by litigation and the decision of the court, the marital assets must be addressed, in most cases, before the divorce decree can be finalized. As with any compromise, a property division negotiation may leave one or both partners feeling a bit cheated or that the other partner ended up with more than was deserved.

In some cases, it can seem very clear that a marriage is deteriorating and headed for divorce. Such a situation may drive one partner, often the one with more control of the family’s finances, to manipulate the situation to unfairly benefit in the event of divorce. While either partner may be tempted to take advantage of the circumstances, it is often the husband who may attempt to hide cash, disguise income, or undervalue property. Hiding assets is not only detrimental to an equitable divorce settlement, it is also illegal.

Jeff Landers is a divorce financial analyst, author, and contributor to Forbes whose focus is primarily women involved in financially complicated divorces. He suggests being vigilant and aware of your family’s financial situation because if your husband is hiding assets, there may be warning signs. While it may be too late to prevent it from happening, knowing what to look for can help you better prepare for what lies ahead.

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divorce finances, Illinois divorce lawyer, divorce attorney, divorce settlement, division of propertyAlthough going through a divorce can be a very emotional time, it’s important to keep divorce finances in mind in order to protect both your future and your children’s future. Financial analyst Suzanna de Baca offers these financial tips for people who are going through a divorce:

Do not give too much away in the divorce settlement.

Negotiating with your spouse over property and assets can turn acrimonious. The constant arguing and conflicts can be emotionally draining, causing many people to "surrender" and end up walking away with less than an equitable amount – just to stop the fighting. It’s important to protect your financial future, so de Baca suggest working with both your attorney and a financial planner to ensure you receive a settlement that is in your best interest.

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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.

Posted on in Divorce

StaciAs a recent Forbes article acknowledges, the advent of modern technology, international travel, and a global economy have all contributed to international marriage being an increasingly common phenomenon. Unfortunately, however, marriages between citizens of different countries or people with dual citizenship are not immune to marital problems, separation, or divorce. If you are part of a dual citizenship marriage, you must be aware of the various potential implications well before you decide to engage in divorce proceedings.

When a person has dual citizenship or dual nationality, he or she is legally a citizen of two countries at the same time. In some cases, dual citizenship happens automatically upon birth, such as the case of a child who is born in a foreign country to U.S. citizens. Often, that child is not only a U.S. citizen, but also a citizen of the foreign country in which he or she was born. On the other hand, some people consciously choose to have dual citizenship. For instance, when a foreign-born person enters the U.S. and is naturalized as a U.S. citizen, then he or she does not lose citizenship in the foreign country.

If you find yourself in a crumbling dual citizenship marriage, and are considering divorce, the first consideration always should be the appropriate forum or jurisdiction for the divorce proceedings to take place. In typical cases, the divorce should occur in the country in which the parties are currently living. This situation, however, is not always advantageous for one party or the other. Some countries have made it very difficult for women to obtain a fair divorce settlement, or even to get divorced at all. Likewise, the financial consequences of divorcing in one country as opposed to another can be totally different.

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Posted on in Divorce

isbaIllinois Law cites 7 major grounds for divorce which require fault, and one which doesn’t.  The one that does not is called a no-fault divorce where irreconcilable differences are cited.  The legal definition is very telling; it is the existence of significant differences between a married couple that are so great and beyond resolution as to make a marriage unworkable.  One party in the divorce has only to that this rift exists and that they are unworkable.  The couple must also be separated for 2 years, or sign a waiver after 6 months.

There are also culpable types of grounds for divorce that have a criminal aspect.  The List of "At Fault" Grounds for Divorce are as follows:

  •  Mental Cruelty
  •  Adultery
  •  Alienation of Affection
  •  Physical Cruelty
  •  Drug Addiction or Drunkenness
  •  Infection with a STD
  •  Conviction of a Felony

Due to a law in Illinois, these at-fault designations do not affect the outcomes of factors of divorce such as division of property, spousal support, and other aspects of a divorce settlement.  The only reason to seek proving a spouse to be "At-Fault" are threefold.

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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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