IL divorce lawyerAn important part of every Illinois divorce is the marital property division arrangement. Ideally, spouses work together to devise a plan that allows both spouses to protect their interests and priorities. However, this is easier said than done. When both spouses have sentimental attachments to objects or when one spouse has an object collection of great financial worth, dividing ownership of these objects can become quite complicated. If you are thinking about divorce in Illinois and you want to protect your collectors’ items, read on.

Are My Collectibles Marital Property?

Spouses who have spent years or even decades collecting items may feel strongly that these belongings are their personal property and should not be marital property. But years of hard work invested in growing a collection does not mean it belongs exclusively to the collector if items were purchased with marital funds, and, unfortunately, both spouses’ incomes are considered marital property. An exception to this may be if a spouse bought an item and gave it as a gift to the other spouse; in this case, proving that the item was a gift may still be difficult.

Valuing Collections and Collectors’ Items

The next step in determining what will happen to collectibles in a divorce is accurately assessing the value of these items. Valuation experts are often helpful when items are unique, expensive, or difficult to compare to other items. For example, a one-of-a-kind baseball card can be hard to value when similar items are not available for comparison. In this case, a valuation expert will try to assess the fair market value of an item using special techniques and the help of other professional appraisers.

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IL divorce lawyerAs the average age of marriage in Illinois increases, many couples are getting married and living in a home that one spouse already owns. Years later, when the couple gets divorced, determining whether the home is marital property can prove trickier than anticipated. If you are considering divorce in DuPage County, IL, and are curious about how your home may be treated in the asset division process, read on.

Is a Home Personal or Marital Property?

If one spouse already owned a home outright before the marriage, and the other spouse moved in once the marriage began, the home will likely be seen as the personal property of the spouse who previously owned it. Generally speaking, assets and debt that were owned by one spouse before a marriage remain the property of that spouse after a divorce.

However, this can get complicated if the other spouse helped pay for significant renovations or if the house was not owned in full when the marriage began. Even if one spouse never technically paid for the home because he or she was engaged in the full-time effort of raising children if the house was paid off using marital money (which is any money earned by either spouse during the marriage), at least part of the house will likely be seen as marital property.

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IL divorce lawyerAfter a couple is married, combining finances, managing budgets, and running a household for many years is a very challenging endeavor and it will likely come as no surprise to most people that financial disagreements are one of the most common reasons couples in Illinois get divorced.

During the divorce process, marital assets must be divided and distributed. As with marriage, finances during divorce can be a very contentious subject. This can be especially true when one spouse is a spendthrift, has substance abuse problems, wantonly gambles, or otherwise wastes a couple’s assets. In cases like these, a temporary financial restraining order (TRO) may be necessary.

What Is a Temporary Financial Restraining Order?

Some states have automatic financial restraining orders that kick in once someone files for divorce. But in Illinois, a spouse must apply for a TRO. A TRO allows spouses to ensure the other spouse does not waste marital property during the divorce process. Many high-net-worth couples use TROs, but anyone can get one if they are filing for divorce and are worried their spouse will be reckless with finances.

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DuPage County division of assets attorneyA number of recent studies, including a survey by the National Endowment for Financial Education, found that 40 percent of American adults have been deceptive about money with their spouse, and about 75 percent admit that financial deceit has affected their relationships. Considering these statistics, it is not surprising that one of the most contentious issues in a divorce is the division of assets. It is not uncommon for one spouse to try to hide assets from the other in order to avoid having to share them in the divorce.

Finding Hidden Assets

When couples are dissolving their marriage, they are required to provide financial affidavits to the court which reveal any assets they have. Although providing false information to the court is illegal, many spouses would rather take their chances and lie about their assets so they do not have to share them with their soon-to-be ex-spouse.

If you are going through a divorce and think that your spouse is hiding assets from you, there are steps that you and your divorce attorney can take in order to find those assets, including:

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Wheaton property division lawyerNearly all financial aspects of divorce are complex, but few are quite as complicated and consequential as the 401(k). When a 401(k) is included in the division of assets, you may find yourself facing costly penalties if you do not take the steps to divide it correctly. Those who try to draw from their 401(k) to cover the expenses of divorce also often find themselves in financial trouble. However, with the assistance of an attorney, you can mitigate the risks of dividing your 401(k) and protect your assets for retirement.

Dividing Retirement Assets With a QDRO

Qualified domestic relations orders, or QDROs, are used to divide employer-sponsored retirement and pension plans in divorce. Their purpose is to allow for the transfer of a portion of the assets to an employee’s spouse without incurring income taxes or early withdrawal penalties. As such, they play a crucial role in preserving retirement savings for both parties in the divorce.

However, employers or third-party plan administrators often charge a fee for dividing a retirement account with a QDRO, so you should be prepared for the possibility of another expense during the divorce process. Fees and costs may increase if the QDRO is not drafted correctly, so it is important to work with an attorney who has significant experience with QDROs and dividing retirement assets.

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