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Kane County Family Law AttorneyWhether you have heard of a cohabitation agreement or not, you might need one if you are living with but not married to your romantic partner. It is becoming increasingly common for couples to live together in long-term, committed relationships without choosing to legally marry. The reasons couples may elect not to marry are numerous and varied. Some simply do not see the need for a “piece of paper” to show commitment. Others prefer to avoid legal entanglement. 

However, in the event that such a relationship ends, there is likely to be a legal entanglement of some type anyway, often in the form of joint property or even children in common. A cohabitation agreement can help you address how certain issues would be settled should you split, or should one of you pass away. These agreements may be the best way for unmarried couples to legally protect themselves. 

What Are the Benefits of a Cohabitation Agreement?

When a married couple splits, they must go through formal divorce proceedings. During a divorce, a court oversees the equitable distribution of marital property and addresses any child custody concerns. No such process exists when unmarried couples split. A cohabitation agreement can help with: 

Geneva Divorce LawyerPets are not just property to their owners. They are companions. Many consider them family members. Further, they are living, breathing, feeling, beings. People love their pets in a way that they do not love their couch, rug, or even car in most cases. If you and your spouse adopted a pet together and are now getting a divorce, you will need to address who will have custody of the pet and who will provide for its needs. A qualified divorce attorney can help you work out your pet custody concerns as one important part of resolving your divorce. 

What Should I Know About Pet Custody Issues in a Divorce?

In some divorce cases, one spouse is happy to let the other take “their” pet. In others, the spouses adopted a dog together, or have both grown attached to a cat over the years. Neither spouse may be willing to completely part with their beloved pet, so animal custody can become quite a contentious issue for some couples. Fortunately, there are solutions in Illinois. If you are faced with pet custody issues in your divorce, you should know: 

  • Joint custody - Illinois courts can now grant joint custody over a pet. Both spouses must be able to care for the pet and must agree to share custody. You and your spouse would need to reach an agreement somewhat similar to a parenting plan. This agreement would cover who will have physical possession of the pet and when, in addition to who will be financially responsible for the pet’s needs. Veterinary care can be quite expensive, so it is important that this is carefully addressed. 
  • Pet’s well-being - Just as you may be emotionally attached to your pet, your pet may be emotionally attached to you in return. Judges in Illinois can now consider both the emotional as well as physical well-being of the pet itself in deciding who the pet should spend time with going forward. Whether you or your spouse is physically able to adequately care for the pet independently will also be important. 
  • Property - Legally, pets are still considered property, although many pet owners do not like to think about it that way. Equitable division of property principles can come into play. 

Addressing ownership of a pet in divorce cases can become quite complex. You may need a skilled attorney to help you find an arrangement that works in your case. 

Kane County Property Division LawyerDividing up marital property equitably can be one of the most stressful parts of a divorce. Depending on the length of the marriage, couples may amass quite a bit of shared property that will need to be split before the divorce is finalized. Of course, the first step to the equitable division of marital property is determining what exactly is - and is not - marital property. While it is true that most things a married couple has are considered marital property, Illinois law carves out a few exceptions. Most married individuals own some individual property, whether they realize it or not. 

If you are struggling with the division of property in your divorce, you should contact a qualified divorce attorney as soon as you can. Divorces can be highly contentious proceedings, and some will try to take advantage of unrepresented parties. Always consult an attorney before agreeing to give any property that you believe is rightfully yours. 

What is Non-Marital Property in Illinois? 

Non-marital property, or individual property, is not subject to equitable distribution during a divorce. It remains with the spouse it solely belongs to. Non-marital property includes: 

kane county divorce lawyerAnyone who has been through a divorce or is currently in the middle of divorce proceedings would likely agree that finalizing a divorce can be a complicated and contentious feat. When substantial assets and high net worth are involved, the complexities and conflicting opinions can increase exponentially. If you are facing a high-asset divorce in Illinois, there are steps you can take to make the process as smooth as possible and help you to achieve a successful settlement in the end.

Identify and Organize All Assets

While building a comprehensive list of all of your assets may not be the first thing that comes to mind at the onset of a divorce, identifying and organizing all assets as soon as possible is incredibly important. It is also important that you are completely transparent when creating this list. If it is discovered that assets are being hidden, it can have a detrimental impact on the determined settlement that one receives. This includes attempting to liquidate, devalue, or transfer ownership of any assets. 

Take the time to build an inventory of your property ahead of time. It is also recommended to make copies of documents and records as these may be unavailable when divorce proceedings begin. 

In the state of Illinois, in the event of a divorce, the equitable distribution law divides the assets fairly, not equally. However, when individuals desire to manage specific assets or property in a particular manner, they may choose to pursue one of the two available nuptial agreements. In the event of a divorce, both pre-and post-nuptial agreements establish how to properly handle assets and property. While pre-nuptial agreements are formed prior to marriage, post-nuptial agreements are initiated during the marriage. If having such direct control over your assets provides you peace of mind, you may want to correspond with a family law attorney to better understand your options.

When Can Post-Nuptial Agreements Be Advantageous?

If the individuals are already married, it is too late for them to form a pre-nuptial agreement. If they still wish to seek this type of asset control during the marriage, they would enter into a post-nuptial agreement. Post-nuptial agreements can be valuable and provide benefits to the couple whether they face divorce or stay together. Oftentimes, the couple may have originally wanted a pre-nuptial agreement but waited too long to make this feasible. 

Some examples of how a post-nuptial agreement could benefit a married couple include:

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