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What Happens to the House During an Illinois Divorce?Looking back on your life with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, it can be emotional to imagine the big steps that you have taken together — buying your first home, moving in together, and making memories under its roof. For many, homes can be a symbol of love, family, and security. For those considering divorce, their home can still represent all of these things, which makes it difficult to determine what you should do with it. Is one of you adamant about keeping the home or are you both looking for a fresh start? Depending on you and your spouse’s circumstances, there are a number of options available to you during the asset division process.

Equitable Division

Illinois is an equitable division state when it comes to marital property division. In other words, you and your spouse’s belongings will be divided fairly, but not necessarily equally. A number of factors, such as each spouse’s income and savings, will be considered when determining who gets what. For most couples, their home is their largest asset, making it a prized possession during asset division. Couples involved in a collaborative divorce can determine how they would like things to be handled, while those involved in litigation will have a judge make this decision for them. Regardless, there are a few common options available if your intention is to keep the house and not sell it.

Divide the Large Assets

For couples that have a number of large assets, such as a vacation home, expensive cars, or a large stock portfolio, they may decide to allot certain assets to each other. One spouse gets the marital home, while the other gets the vacation home. Since one spouse is typically more inclined to keep the marital home than the other, this can often be an easy decision to make. If you and your spouse have kids, the custodial parent will usually stay in the home with their kids, while the other parent finds a new place to live.

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Should I Get a Home Appraisal Before Filing for Divorce?Deciding what to do with your family’s home after your divorce can be an emotional decision to make. You likely have a number of happy memories over the past years that are tied to your home. Oftentimes, one party will keep the home while the other will move out and find a new place to live. Deciding who will remain in the home may not be a hard choice, but divvying up your other assets and properties in a fair manner may prove difficult. A couple’s house is likely the most valuable asset that they have, both personally and financially, so the person who remains in the home is receiving the largest asset in the divorce. Since Illinois is an equitable division state when it comes to asset and property division, the other spouse must receive assets of similar value in return.

What is a Home Appraisal?

A home appraisal is a financial estimate of your home from a licensed professional. Appraisers will determine the fair market value of your home by looking at sales of similar properties in your area over the past few months. Typically, they will look at the selling price of three recently sold properties and the asking price of three properties currently on the market. The appraiser will average the costs, make adjustments based on characteristics of your home, and determine a fair market value for your property. 

Why Do I Need One?

Appraisals can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several hundred dollars, and the price tag can often stray people away from getting their home financially evaluated. What many do not realize is that a home appraisal can save them thousands of dollars at the end of the day. It is important to know the true value of your home for equitable distribution during the property division process. Some couples may do their own property estimate by looking at the prices of properties nearby, but they fail to take into account the various other factors that can affect their home’s value. In contentious divorces, both spouses may consider getting their own appraisal done to ensure the accuracy of the presented value. If two appraisals are done, a judge will typically look at both numbers, see if they are different, and average the two.

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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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Homewood prenuptial agreement attorney

Prenuptial 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:

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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.

Sources:

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BBA Of Will County Illinois State Bar Association Cook County Bar Association The National Bar Association BWLA
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