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Kane County family law attorneysFor many married couples, the family home is the largest investment the spouses will ever make. The couple may own cars, furniture, and business interests, but the marital home typically represents more than just financial worth. It generally carries a great deal of intrinsic and sentimental value as well. That is why the marital home is often a source of controversy during a divorce, leading many couples to explore creative solutions for dividing their marital property.

Equitable Distribution and Proper Valuation

Illinois law requires the marital property of a divorcing couple to be divided equitably during the process of divorce. There is no expectation that the division should be equal, only that is fair and just. The marital home usually comprises a significant portion of the marital estate, so it is very important for the home’s actual value to be properly determined. This will likely require the help of at least one real estate appraiser. If you and your spouse cannot agree on a particular professional, you can each hire your own to present their independent evaluations to the court.

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Posted on in Divorce Finances

Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois divorce lawsIn a marriage, all assets and debts accrued while the couple is married are considered to be marital property. This includes any debt following purchases made primarily or solely for one partner's benefit, such as a new vehicle or a college education for one of the spouses. The only exception to this rule is if the couple has a prenuptial agreement in place that designates one partner as the sole owner of a specific asset or debt or if one partner receives an asset through inheritance or a gift. In these latter scenarios, the asset or debt is singly-held property and treated the same way as an asset or debt or she held when he or she entered the marriage. When your property is divided during your divorce, it is divided according to the doctrine of equitable distribution. This means that your assets and debts are assigned to you and your partner according to your needs and contributions to the marriage.

How the Court May Divide Your Debt

Because the court needs to divide your debt equitably, it will most likely try to balance each partner's debt with the amount of assets they receive. For example, if you are given a larger share of your marital investment portfolio, you may also be given a larger share of your marital debt. Multiple factors are considered when determining the best way to divide a couple's debt, such as each partner's income and how it will impact his or her ability to maintain a comfortable standard of living.

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Posted on in Division of Property

business-and-divorceIf you are a business owner, you will not necessarily lose your business in your divorce. But you will most likely be required to divide the business' interests with your spouse or buy out his or her interest in the company. What will happen to your small business in your divorce depends on a number of factors, including your future plans for the business and the extent to which both you and your spouse are invested in its daily operation. When you are going through a divorce, it is important that you work with an attorney who knows how to handle the division of a small business between divorcing spouses.

Businesses That Are Developed during a Marriage Are Marital Property

Just like your home and joint bank accounts, a business is considered to be a marital asset and thus subject to Illinois' laws of equitable distribution. If you built your business before entering your marriage, it is not necessarily protected from being divided between you and your spouse in your divorce. This is because your business likely comprised a significant portion of your income, possibly even all of it. Your spouse might also have helped it grow in some way after your marriage. The only exception to the equitable distribution rule is if you have a prenuptial agreement in place that states that your spouse is not entitled to any portion of your business in a divorce.

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marital property, nonmarital propertyDividing assets between spouses is always an important part of a divorce in Illinois. Many residents are familiar with the idea that all property is labeled as either marital or non-marital. Under Illinois law, property owned by one spouse before the marriage is usually deemed non-marital property and anything acquired during the marriage is labeled marital property. Generally, all marital property is split “equitably” (a nuanced term), while non-marital property remains with the original owner.

However, that brief overview drastically simplifies how complex the property distribution process can get. This is particularly true when significant assets are at stake, such as in high-net worth divorces. The most bitter feuds in divorces often involve property allocation when parties disagree on whether certain assets should be labeled marital or non-marital. Understanding Commingling One property distribution complexity involves the co-mingling of marital and non-marital assets during a marriage. For example, consider a husband who receives a cash inheritance after a relative passes away. Can the husband later claim during divorce that the cash should remain outside of the marital estate? Typically, an inheritance given directly to one spouse is deemed non-marital property. However, the inheritance may actually become marital depending on what is done with the inheritance afterwards. To determine if the inheritance becomes marital property, the asset must be “traced” from the time it was acquired until the time of the divorce. If the cash was deposited into a joint bank account from which all manner of joint purchases were made, then the inheritance may be “transmuted” into marital property. Alternatively, if the inheritance money was used to immediately acquire another asset (i.e. a car), then new property may still be deemed non-marital. It is easy to envision many different circumstances where the tracing process can be quite complex. The longer a marriage, the more complex the tracing that may be needed. Illinois courts usually favor classifying property as marital. Under the law, the party claiming that an asset is non-marital typically has the burden of proving it. Meeting that burden is often a challenge, and may require scouring financial records, bank statements, estate planning documents, and similar material. At times even expert witnesses must be called, like accountants and other financial professionals, to show that non-marital assets were not commingled to the extent that their character remains the same. Contact an Attorney The labeling of property during divorce is frequently a hotly debated issue. That is why you need an aggressive advocate on your side who is experienced in complex issues related to commingled assets and state tracing requirements. For help in suburban Illinois, including Kane County, DuPage County, and many other communities, please contact the attorneys at Goostree Law Group today.
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Posted on in Divorce

property division, divorce, cohabitation, lawyer, attorney, Illinois divorce lawyer, Chicago divorceThe definition of marital separation is changing. Traditionally, it involved the movement of one or both spouses out of the marital home into smaller houses, or possibly an apartment across town. As more couples deal with upside-down mortgages and a buyer's housing market, the apartment across town becomes the apartment in the basement.

 Many married individuals cannot afford the luxury of a true separation and family law judges are recognizing these financial complexities when making determinations about separation requirements. Ending a marriage often involves the disposition of the marital home. Whether you decide to sell the home and split the proceeds during asset division, or to refinance and “buy out” your spouse, the family home is often the most valuable asset for division in a divorce proceeding. The bursting of the real estate bubble left many married couples owing more than their houses are worth, and selling would leave the family in financial ruins. Those who do choose to sell must wait while their houses sit on the market for months or even years with no response. The only viable alternative is to separate under the same roof in hopes of a real estate turn-around. For some couples, the decision to stay under the same roof is centered around the well-being of the children. Maintaining a sense of stability and routine is just as important as maintaining a roof over their heads. Many parents decide that co-parenting is the best course of action for the children, even in the midst of a painful separation. This can prove beneficial because many judges prefer for parents to make decisions about their children, without necessary intrusion from the court.  How Cohabitation Affects Separation Requirements

Illinois law requires at least a six month separation period before a couple will be granted. divorce. Some states are strict in their definition of separation, mandating that the parties live in completely separate dwellings. In some jurisdictions, one night of cohabitation is enough to break the continuity of separation. Other states are much more liberal, allowing for co-habitation, as long as you maintain different bedrooms and refrain from sexual intercourse throughout the separation. Many jurisdictions fall in the middle of the spectrum, using a totality of the circumstances model to determine whether a true separation has occurred.

 In the past, some Illinois courts have found parties to have met the separation requirement even while living under the same roof. With the widespread phenomena of financial hardship, recent trends suggest that more family court judges are willing to grant divorces for separations occurring under one roof. From a public policy standpoint, separation is meant as a cooling off period, to let feelings settle and perhaps bring about reconciliation. The argument for divorce can be strengthened when reconciliation does not occur among parties under the same roof.  Contact an Illinois Divorce Lawyer An experienced Illinois divorce attorney can advise you about the separation requirements in your case and help you determine whether your housing decisions will impede the process of your divorce. Contact Goostree Law Group, P.C. for a consultation today.
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