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Geneva asset division lawyerThe end of a marriage involves several legal steps and decisions. Determinations need to be made about many issues, including how property will be divided, if spousal support is appropriate, as well as child-related issues if a couple has a family. During the divorce proceedings, spouses may come to agreements on all of these matters. However, they may also argue over who gets what. In such cases, the court will intervene and make decisions on their behalf. When determining how a couple’s assets will be divided, Illinois follows the equitable distribution method. This also means that any marital debt will have to be split fairly. If you are concerned about what will happen to your debt once you are divorced, a knowledgeable divorce attorney can help navigate this complex issue. 

What Constitutes Marital Debt?

There are many reasons for the accumulation of debt. Money is often borrowed to pay for higher education, to purchase properties, or to start a family business. Each spouse may bring personal debt to a marriage, or in some cases, none at all. Marital debt refers to any debts that a couple accrues after they are legally married. Therefore, if one party had significant student loans or credit card balances that he or she racked up prior to the marriage, that would not be considered marital debt. Similarly, any loans or bills that are accrued after the divorce are the responsibility of the spouse who made the purchases or took out the loan.

Under Illinois law, spouses are responsible for each other’s expenses to maintain the household or support the family during the marriage. This can include buying food, clothes, and toiletries, as well as paying rent or mortgage, vehicle costs, and health insurance. If these items are not paid for outright, they may be charged to a credit card. For housing, the mortgage payments would be made through a bank loan.  

Kane County family law attorneysYou have worked very hard for many years to accumulate significant assets which you assumed would fund your retirement. Whether you have a fully-vested pension plan, 401(k), IRA, or other investments accounts, those funds will likely be waiting for you when you retire—unless you get divorced. Retirement investments, like any other asset, may be considered marital property and, therefore, would be subject to division between you and your spouse in the event of divorce. There are several ways in which retirement accounts may be considered in divorce, including one that may require the use of a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QDRO.

Dividing or Offsetting

Depending upon when you first began contributing to your retirement funds, all of your investments may not be subject to division. According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, only the portion that accumulated during your marriage is considered marital property. You might need the help of a financial professional to establish the value of the investment prior to the marriage, so that only the correct portion is considered during the divorce process. Once that has been done, you, your spouse, and the court need to determine how, or even if, the investments will be divided.

If you and your spouse possess other significant assets such as homes, vehicles, or non-retirement savings, you may be able to negotiate a deal in which you keep your entire retirement investment. This could be even more likely if each of you already has a separate pension or 401(k). Instead of complicating matters by splitting benefits that will not be payable for years, you may, for example, be permitted to keep your pension, while your spouse is allocated a larger share of your marital cash holdings.

Kane County divorce attorneysDissipation of assets refers to instances when a spouse who is either in the process of getting divorced or will soon divorce, purposely wastes marital assets. If you are getting divorced and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse has wasted marital assets through reckless spending, gambling, drug use, or through other means, you should know that there is a legal process for recovering these funds. Read on to learn the specific criteria which must be met in order to claim dissipation, as well as learn how you can reclaim the money that was wasted.

Dissipation in Illinois Defined

Not just any type of spending is considered dissipation. The spending must happen during a specific time and meet other criteria in order to be considered dissipative. The Illinois Supreme Court provides the legal definition of dissipation. In Illinois, dissipation is 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 irreconcilable breakdown.”

Geneva property division lawyersIf you are considering divorce, you may be worried about how you and your spouse’s combined property will be divided. You may have seen television or movies where a spiteful spouse takes their former partner for everything, leaving the other spouse destitute. Luckily, the reality of property division during divorce is much more reasonable. Illinois courts distribute property and assets according to “equitable distribution” laws, which means that although property may not be divided 50/50, it will be divided justly.

What Is Considered Marital Property?

Not every asset that a spouse owns is eligible to be divided during a divorce according to Illinois laws. Only marital property, which is most property acquired during the marriage, will be equitably allocated between the spouses. This is not as simple as it may seem, however. For example, if a person is awarded a cash inheritance from a deceased relative, this money is considered separate property. It cannot be divided up during divorce. However, if the individual adds that money to a joint banking account or uses it to pay family bills, it becomes marital property and therefore is subject to division.

Kane County divorce attorneyAlthough we often do not consider it as such, a divorce is the end of a financial relationship just as much it is a romantic relationship. When a couple gets married, they combine not only their personal lives but also their finances. When a married couple divorces, courts must decide how to divide the property, assets, and debt which the married couple owns. The courts must also consider whether either spouse should be ordered to pay child support or spousal maintenance (formerly called alimony) to the other. In order to make these decisions, courts rely on both parties’ complete honesty and transparency regarding their financial situations. When one or both spouses are not honest regarding their finances during a divorce, there can be serious consequences which significantly complicate the divorce process.

How Do Spouses Misrepresent Their Financial Status?

A spouse lying about their assets, property, income, or debt is not as easy to spot as you might think. There are many methods unscrupulous spouses use to hide their true financial status from the courts. A spouse being untruthful about his or her finances may:

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