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Joliet divorce attorneysAs part of the transition from being married to being single that occurs in a divorce, Illinois couples are required to equitably divide all marital assets and debts. This is an issue that can lead to much conflict, and the outcome can have serious financial implications for both spouses. As such, it is important to be prepared by understanding the assets you will be expected to divide and how you can do so in a way that protects your interests.

Examples of Marital Assets

Illinois law defines marital assets as any properties that are acquired by either spouse during the marriage and before any judgment of legal separation, with a few exceptions including assets acquired by one partner through a gift or inheritance, and assets that are designated as non-marital in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Some examples of marital property may be obvious, but others you may not expect. Marital assets can include all of the following:

  • Bank accounts with contributions made during the marriage, whether they are joint accounts or listed under one spouse’s name
  • Real estate property including the marital home, if it was acquired during the marriage
  • Physical property acquired by either spouse, including vehicles, furniture, appliances, jewelry, and other valuables
  • Retirement accounts, including both individual and employer-sponsored accounts, if contributions were made during the marriage
  • Business assets and investments acquired during the marriage, whether they are owned by one spouse or co-owned by both.

Methods of Dividing Marital Property

It is important to note that Illinois requires an “equitable” distribution rather than an “equal” distribution, meaning that neither individual assets nor the entire value of the marital estate must be divided exactly in half between both spouses. This leaves you with options for determining the best way to divide your marital property. For example, you may negotiate with your spouse to come to an agreement that allows each of you to remain financially stable and keep properties that are important to you. You may also negotiate for spousal maintenance to offset imbalances resulting from the division of property. If negotiation is not possible, you can also take your case before the court with the assistance of an attorney.

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Joliet divorce attorneysEvery divorce is different, including each spouse’s inclination to be cooperative throughout the process. Though it is easiest and quickest for both parties to be forthcoming regarding their finances, it is not uncommon for one or both spouses to attempt to keep a portion of their assets out of the divorce proceedings. As an equitable distribution state, Illinois requires all finances and assets to be disclosed and fairly distributed between both parties, even if one spouse was the primary breadwinner. If you suspect that your spouse is keeping a side-stash of assets, you may consider taking additional action to reveal their true colors.

Common Signs of Hidden Assets

Do you have a feeling that your spouse is not being truly forthcoming about their assets, but are unsure of where to look? Before obtaining a court order against your spouse, you should try to do your own digging. There are four common ways that spouses hide their assets during a divorce:

  1. Denying that the asset exists
  2. Transferring the asset to a third party for the time being
  3. Claiming that the asset was lost or misplaced
  4. Creating false debt

Looking at the details on your tax returns are often the most telling of your true financial situation. The first place that you should look is the itemized deduction section. You can easily detect undisclosed assets or income. For example, a deduction of property taxes could reveal the existence of a hidden property. You can also look at the interest and dividends recorded on the tax return. First, create your own inventory of the assets that you know of, then compare this to your tax return to determine if there are any unknown assets generating interest or dividends. There are a number of other areas that can be useful in locating hidden assets with the help of your attorney, though this is a good place to start.

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Joliet divorce attorneysDetermining what to do with your family home during the asset division process can be a difficult task. For some, it may be obvious who will be keeping the house and who will be moving out. For others, it may be a contentious conversation to have during your divorce proceedings. Illinois divides marital property equitably, but not necessarily equally, and this reality can leave you wondering how you and your spouse will each be granted equivalent amounts of marital property if your family home is your most expensive asset. With the help of a reputable divorce attorney, you can be fully informed on the options available to you and will receive your fair share.

Dividing Your Large Assets

For those who have more than one large asset, determining who gets the family home may not seem like an unfair discussion. If you and your spouse have multiple large assets, such as luxury cars or a vacation home, you may just agree to have one spouse keep the home and the other keep the second large asset. This is the easier route to take if it is a possibility, but for most families, their home is their one and only particularly large asset.

Buy Out Your Spouse

In order to avoid having one spouse benefit by receiving the largest asset, while the other spouse feels short-changed, the spouse who intends on keeping the marital home can buy out their former spouse. This requires an official appraisal of your house’s current market value, dividing the number in half, and the new sole-homeowner paying their former spouse for their half of the ownership. This is a common solution used by divorcing parents, allowing the children to remain in their current home with one parent while the other parent finds alternative housing.

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