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Are Belongings Divided 50-50 in an Illinois Divorce?During the divorce process, property division can be the most contentious conversation that you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse will have. Not only is it emotionally difficult to discuss divvying up your life together, but it can also reveal sides of your former spouse that you may have never seen before. The division of assets can sometimes feel like a lose-lose situation, especially when you do not think that your previous partner deserves some of your belongings. Having an experienced divorce attorney on your side can help you determine which assets you are willing to give up and which ones are worth fighting for. Without a proper lawyer’s help in states like Illinois, it may feel like you are giving up a lot more than you expected.

Equitable Distribution Versus Community Property

Like most states in the U.S., Illinois is an equitable distribution state, meaning that properties in a divorce are divided in a manner that is deemed fair but not necessarily 50-50. Divorcing couples who cannot agree on how things will be divided will be turned over to a judge, who will then determine how the property will be divided in an equitable manner. The judge will look at factors such as income, personal assets, and financial needs and determine what is considered fair.

There are nine states that use a different method, and they are called community property states. Within these states, lawmakers deem all property, assets, and debts to be the belongings of both spouses. With this in mind, everything will be divided 50-50 between both parties, including any debts. This type of division applies to anyone filing for divorce within these nine states, whether or not they got married within them. These properties will be considered “quasi-community” property if they are acquired while living in an equitable distribution state.

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Reasons For Signing a Prenuptial AgreementPrenuptial agreements are not mandatory within an Illinois marriage, but any engaged couple that has personal or business assets may want to protect what is theirs before getting married.

A prenuptial agreement is a written agreement that both you and your future spouse construct before getting married. This agreement lays out how property and assets will be divided if divorce or death were to occur. Items that can be included within a prenuptial agreement include:

  • Division of property and/or assets
  • The right to manage and control property belonging to the other spouse
  • Changes or elimination of spousal support/maintenance 
  • Establishing a will, trust, or other arrangement or obligation to carry out the prenuptial agreements terms
  • The ownership rights in and distribution of the death benefit from a life insurance policy
  • Choice of laws that will be used for creating the agreement

Signing a prenuptial agreement may be beneficial for one or more of the following reasons:

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Avoid Making These 3 Financial Mistakes in Your Illinois DivorceDivorces can be costly – nobody is arguing that. Not only is it financially expensive, but you also end up giving more of your time and emotional energy than you thought you would. Some of the most time consuming and emotionally draining times of your divorce can be during the property division process. This is when you and your spouse look at everything you have accumulated together and decide who gets to keep what and who will be responsible for paying back which debts. This is also the phase of the divorce in which many mistakes can be made, which can affect you for the rest of your life. If you are getting a divorce, here are a few mistakes you should be sure to avoid making:

  1. Not Having Copies of All Your Financial Documents: This is a mistake that a surprising amount of individuals make when they begin looking at their finances during a divorce. You will need various financial documents dating back a couple of years in order to gain a complete understanding of you and your spouse’s current financial situation. Try to gather documents such as statements for your bank accounts, retirement accounts and investment accounts; deeds to your home and other real estate properties; titles for any vehicles you may own; and tax returns from the past three-to-five years.
  2. Not Considering the Tax Consequences of Your Decisions: Certain financial moves you make during the divorce can affect the amount of taxes you will have to pay in the future. You should be aware of the tax implications that any actions you take during the divorce will have. Most of the time, the biggest tax implication you will face depends on whether or not you pay or receive spousal maintenance. Beginning in 2019, the person who pays spousal maintenance no longer receives the tax break that allowed them to deduct that amount from their income tax, likely placing them into an entirely different tax bracket.
  3. Being Too Concerned With Keeping the Family Home: Another mistake many divorcing individuals make is being too focused on keeping the family home at all costs. Women, in particular, have a tough time letting go of the family home, especially if there were children raised there. Though this is not always an issue, in many cases, a person who is now living on a single income may find it difficult to afford the mortgage payments and keep up with the costs of maintaining a home. 

Hire a Skilled DuPage County Divorce Attorney

Divorce is already expensive enough – you do not need to make any more mistakes that might cost you more money in the long run. At The Foray Firm, we understand how draining a divorce can be – both on your wallet and on your emotions. Our knowledgeable Homewood, IL, divorce lawyers will help you see the big picture during your property division phase and ensure you are making the right decisions to prepare you for the future. Call our office today at 312-702-1293 to schedule a consultation.

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Unique Assets That You May Need to Divide in Your Illinois DivorceBeing married, even for just a few years, can leave you and your soon-to-be ex with a mess of tangled assets, which can be stressful when all you want is for the divorce to be over with. Illinois courts support the idea that divorces work best when the couple comes to agreements for issues on their own, although that is not always possible. Illinois judges will first make you and your spouse attend mediation sessions to try to work out the details of your divorce, but you will end up in court if it does not go as planned. The process of dividing your property can become lengthy, especially since you have to address almost everything you and your spouse own together or separately – even the not-so-common assets. 

Physical Items

Physical assets are those that you can see, feel and touch. Typically, when most people think of property division, they are thinking of physical assets, which can include:

  • Pets or other animals: Prior to 2018, Illinois treated pets much like property was – whoever contributed the most financially to the animal usually ended up keeping it. Now, pets are treated more like children and a judge can decide who to place the animal with, based on the relationship between the animal and each spouse and the wellbeing of the animal. Pets are still one of the more contentious issues in property negotiations.
  • Collections or other mementos: Items such as photographs and home videos are invaluable and can be highly fought over in property division. With today’s technology, making copies of these things is fairly easy, though having the originals is another matter. Collections can also be fought over, especially since many collectible items are worth a lot of money.
  • Gifts given to each other: Items that were given as gifts before you were married – such as the engagement ring – are not subject to division. However, any items you may have given as gifts while you were married are fair game.

Abstract Assets

These assets are sometimes overlooked because they are not technically physical things. Just because something cannot be touched or felt does not mean that it lacks value. Intangible, yet valuable assets that you should not forget include:

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Setting the Record Straight: Common Divorce Myths and Their TruthsMost of the public perception of divorce is just what people have seen in movies and television or what they have heard from family and friends. While Hollywood does a good job of making intriguing entertainment, it can be partially to blame for some of the misinformation that has been spread about divorce. Divorce myths and misinformation can not only confuse you, but they can also be detrimental if you base your divorce decisions off of them. If you are considering filing for a divorce, you should be thoroughly informed of what you are getting yourself into before you do. Here are a few common divorce myths and the truths behind them:

1. Proving that your spouse committed adultery will help your case.

This might have been true 50 years ago, but most divorce courts no longer give any weight toward claims of adultery. In fact, most divorce courts do not care what the specific reason for divorce is. In Illinois, the only type of divorce that is recognized anymore is a “no-fault” divorce. Instead of choosing a reason for getting the divorce, you now only have to prove that there were irreconcilable differences that resulted in the inevitable breakdown of the marriage. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act also specifically states that decisions will be made “without regard to marital misconduct.”

2. Mothers always receive custody of the children.

This one was also somewhat true for a long time. Now, the state of Illinois does not care whether it is the mother or the father who receives a majority of the parenting time. The only thing that Illinois courts are concerned with is the best interest and the wellbeing of any children who are a part of a divorce. If that means that it is in the children’s best interest to spend most of their time with their father, then that is what the court will decide on.

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