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Finding Hidden Assets during Your Divorce

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Illinios divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorney, marriage, asset division,There are two types of property that a married individual may have: marital property and separate property. Separate property is anything that an individual owned before getting married or received as a gift or through inheritance. Marital property is the property that a married couple purchased or created together during the course of their marriage, such as their home or a joint savings accounts. During a divorce, the couple's marital property is divided among them according to Illinois' equitable distribution rules included in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. This law states that unlike in community property states where marital property is divided 50/50, Illinois couples may have their property divided according to what the court determines each partner contributed to the property. This results in settlements that are not necessarily completely equal, but are tailored to the couple's unique circumstances and needs.

When one partner hides or attempts to hide assets from his or her spouse, the couple's property cannot be fairly divided. Fortunately, there are methods in place that attorneys may use to discover hidden assets.

Ways to Discover Hidden Assets

There are many ways an attorney can determine if his or her client's spouse is hiding assets from him or her. Some of the ways an individual might hide assets from a spouse include:

Unmarried Couples and Palimony in Illinois

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Illinios divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorney, cohabitation,Illinois does not recognize alimony between unmarried couples, commonly referred to as palimony. Palimony, similar to alimony (maintenance), is an arrangement whereby one partner makes support payments to the other partner after the relationship ends. This law was established by the Illinois Supreme Court in 1979. However, a state appellate court recently held that the Supreme Court’s decades-old decision has been rendered obsolete.

The appellate case involves domestic partners (Jane and Eileen) who met in the 1980s. During their years together, the couple raised and cross-adopted three children. They also merged their finances, purchased real estate and registered as domestic partners in Cook County in 2003. After the relationship ended in 2008, Jane moved out of the house that they had purchased together. Two years later she filed a petition seeking to divide the value of the house. Eileen filed a counterclaim, arguing that she should have sole title since she had been a stay-at-home mom while the children were young, Jane’s medical partnership was purchased with common funds and Eileen had assumed maintenance costs after Jane moved out.

Jane argued that Eileen’s counterclaim amounted to a palimony claim, which is barred under Illinois law. The trial court agreed. Eileen appealed, arguing that intervening judicial and legislative changes in Illinois now support palimony claims. The appellate court agreed with Eileen, holding that “the public policy to treat unmarried partnerships as illicit no longer exists, that [Eileen’s] suit is not an attempt to retroactively create a marriage, and that allowing her to proceed with her claims against her former domestic partner does not conflict with this jurisdiction’s abolishment of common law marriage.”

In the midst of planning a wedding and a romantic honeymoon, having a conversation about a prenuptial agreement might be awkward at best. A Harvard researcher suggests that these documents are underused for two primary reasons: people underestimate the value of a prenuptial agreement, and an underlying belief that signing a prenuptial agreement spells out marriage disaster. prenuptial agreementHeather Mahar, a Research Fellow in Law and Economics at Harvard, conducted a study to determine what leads people to avoid the prenuptial agreement conversation. Since there’s no registry of prenuptial agreements, it’s difficult to know exactly how many people have such a document. However, legal practitioners and scholars estimate that approximately 10% or less of the population uses a prenuptial agreement. Although statistics from the US Census Bureau and other experts would indicate that the rate of divorce is particularly high in the United States, it’s interesting that so few people elect to have a prenuptial agreement. What she found is that many people believe that signing a prenuptial agreement is a negative signal for the relationship. In her results, nearly 64 percent of the respondents stated that they believe divorce was more likely than not if they were asked to sign a prenuptial agreement. A majority of respondents also indicated that despite their awareness of current divorce statistics, they believed their relationship would be more likely to succeed. This is referred to as “optimism bias” and is a second leading reason for why individuals choose not to pursue prenuptial agreements. A prenuptial agreement doesn’t have to signal a negative outcome to the relationship. What it does signal is an awareness of your individual situation and an interest in outlining expectations if the relationship doesn’t work out. For some people, putting together prenuptial agreement is simply prudent planning. If you would like to speak with a professional about house to put together it prenuptial agreement, contact in Illinois family law attorney today.

Who Can Benefit from Divorce Mediation?

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Are you experiencing anxiety about moving your divorce case into the traditional court docket? If so, you’re not alone. The courtroom atmosphere can make former spouses feel as if they going to battle against one another, and that simply is not the right solution for every couple who wants to terminate their marriage. This is where mediation can come to your assistance. Mediation allows parties to work with a trained professional to negotiate the terms of their divorce.  If you and your spouse have already come to terms on several major issues about the divorce (like property division or child custody), you can avoid the headaches, emotional toil, and high expenses of going through court. Depending on how busy the judges in your area are, waiting for a court date could also produce significant delays for those spouses who would prefer a legal dissolution sooner rather than later. If you and your spouse are already able to speak amicably about the facts of the divorce, you might not need to go to court anyways. You’ll be much more likely to get an efficient and effective solution for your family with mediation. Even in cases where the parties do not agree on major post-divorce issues have found success with mediation. Research from the 11th Illinois Judicial Circuit shows real evidence that mediation helped child custody disputes by helping 20 percent  to 43 percent of couples reach a partial or full agreement. In mediation, parties communicate with a trained neutral mediator who guides them through options to reach a consensus. If you and your spouse are not able to communicate with one another, or domestic violence has played a role in your relationship, mediation is not recommended. Some couples do attempt mediation and are not able to resolve their differences and have to move forward to court anyways, so if you sense that cooperation is not an option, you’re better off skipping mediation. Working with a talented attorney to set another course of action can be much more effective for you. If you’d like more information about mediation in divorce, contact an Illinois divorce mediator today.
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