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St. Charles property division lawyerMost of the decisions you make during your divorce can and probably will affect you for the rest of your life, but one of the most important decisions you and your spouse must come to is how you will divide your marital estate. For many couples, this can be an emotional and highly contentious process because of the importance placed on their belongings and the need to have financial security after the divorce process has been completed. The way marital property is divided can affect a person’s financial stability or even their ability to retire later in life. With so much at stake, Illinois courts urge couples to try to come to an agreement on their own about property division, though, if they cannot, they will have to take the issue to court.

Factors for Consideration

If a couple is unable to reach an agreement about how their marital estate will be divided, they will have to appear before a judge so that he or she can make a determination for them. If this happens, the judge will only make decisions about marital property, which means most property that was acquired after the couple was legally married but before a judgment of legal separation was entered. The judge will consider a variety of factors, including:

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Reasons to Sell or Keep Your House During a DivorceHouse ownership can be difficult to negotiate during a divorce because it is one of the most valuable properties in a marriage. In Illinois, marital property is equitably divided during a divorce, which means it is split fairly but not always evenly. In many cases, one spouse keeps the house, while the other spouse receives compensation through money or other assets. Spouses can also choose to sell the house and divide the proceeds. There are advantages and disadvantages to selling a marital house.

Reasons to Sell the House

  • When you sell the house, you have an actual monetary value for it instead of an estimated value. Knowing the actual value can help in negotiating an equitable division.
  • If you cannot agree on ownership of the house, selling it may be the only way you can reach an agreement. When negotiations are at an impasse, the court will decide how to divide the value of the house and may order you to sell it anyway.
  • While you shared the expenses when married, owning the house individually shifts the mortgage, utility, maintenance and property tax costs to you. Your ability to afford the house may depend on the spousal support payments you receive.
  • If you want to keep the house, you may need to give up several other marital assets. Selling the house allows you to share its value, instead of having to compensate your spouse with other assets.
  • Depending on the volatility of your marriage, you may want to leave the house because of negative memories you have of it.

Reasons to Keep the House

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division of assets, kane county divorce lawyerAmong the many concerns spouses have throughout the divorce process, it is no surprise that a significant anxiety that often plagues those undergoing a split is worry over finances. Depending on your income, earning potential, employment situation, and the belongings you and your spouse have acquired over the course of your marriage, that worry may be severely compounded when children are added to the equation or when there is a drastic difference in your debt to income ratio.

Plan Ahead When Possible

Whatever your financial circumstances as you work through the end of your marriage, you will need to come to grips with your situation sooner, rather than later. It is imperative to obtain a snapshot of your finances in order to work with your attorney, financial planner, and accountant to plan for and create financial security for yourself following the divorce. Doing so requires a full inventory sweep of your financial obligations and assets.

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Kane County family law attorneyIssues of money and property are often among the most contested elements in any divorce situation. A couple who has spent many years building a life together frequently have trouble disengaging from one another, at least in regard to their assets and debts. When divorcing spouses cannot reach a negotiated agreement regarding how their property will be divided, the court will make such decisions for them. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) provides fairly straightforward guidelines for the distribution of marital property which must be followed by the court.

What Property Will Be Divided?

Before any assets can be distributed, the court must first identify the property that is subject to division. Only assets and debts that are considered marital property will be divided between the spouses. The full listing of a couple’s marital property is sometimes referred to as the “marital estate.” According to Illinois law, the marital estate consists of virtually all property—including assets and debts—acquired by either spouse during the marriage. Very limited exceptions may be made for assets acquired during the marriage as a gift or inheritance to one spouse. Assets that were owned before the marriage are considered non-marital and are not subject to division.

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