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Dividing “Unusual” Marital Property during a Divorce

Posted on in Divorce

Illinios divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorney, marriage, asset division,Illinois is an equitable distribution state, which means that marital assets are divided equitably, and not necessarily equally. The first assets that likely come to mind when you think about dividing marital property are the bank accounts, as well as the house, car and other large tangible objects. But there are additional, more “unusual” assets that are often overlooked before the divorce proceeding begins. Examples include:

  • Pets – Pets are considered personal property under Illinois law and are treated as such during a divorce proceeding. One factor that contributes to who gets Fido is who gets the kids.
  • Gifts given during the marriage – If your husband gives you diamond earrings for Valentine’s Day, or if your wife gives you an expensive watch for your birthday, those “gifts” are actually marital property, if they were purchased using marital assets. While it seems likely that each spouse will end up with his or her respective gift, that is not a guarantee.
  • Photograph albums – It is difficult to put a price tag on a book of memories, but it is easy for spouses to argue about who gets the photograph albums.
  • Collections – Suppose you started a collection of tile coasters or salt-and-pepper shakers as mementos of your trips together. That collection sits in a curio cabinet in your living room. Who gets the collectibles? And who gets the cabinet? A collection, like photographs, has sentimental value that also defies a price tag.
  • Frequent flyer miles – This is a valuable asset that is likely considered marital property, especially if the plane tickets that earned the miles were purchased with marital assets.
  • Partnership in a legal or medical practice – Often one spouse will stay at home and care for the kids while the other spouse focuses on his or her career. The law refers to the stay-at-home spouse’s sacrifice as a homemaker contribution. Some courts might say that this contribution entitles the stay-at-home spouse to a certain percentage of the working spouse’s involvement in the partnership. This can be a complicated calculation that requires the help of forensic accountants.
  • Legal judgments – Suppose that one spouse is injured in a car accident and sues for damages. The spouse then receives a large monetary award. Even though the injured spouse is the one who underwent medical treatment and pain and suffering, that judgment is marital property.
  • Intellectual Property Interests – Patents, copyrights, trademarks and other intellectual property interests conceived during the marriage are also subject to equitable distribution.
Because Illinois is an equitable distribution state, a divorcing spouse needs an experienced divorce attorney who can help the spouse receive his or her fair share of the marital property. Contact one of our experienced Kane County divorce attorneys today. We can assist those in the St. Charles area.  
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