Category Archives: Division of Assets

How Do Pet Ownership Trends Affect Illinois Divorce Cases?

Wheaton property division lawyer for pet ownershipFor many couples, pets become a part of their family. In fact, couples who do not have kids often treat their pets more like children, caring for them and their best interests as if they were the couple’s own offspring. As a result of this growing trend, the legal system has recently needed to adapt, and when it comes to divorce, pet custody has become a much more complicated issue.

Trends in Pet Ownership

It is true: pets are becoming more and more a part of our families. Your cat might rub its head against you out of warm affection, or your dog might try to comfort you with a lick on the face when you are upset. It is easy to see why pets are viewed as sentient beings like children as opposed to property. Statistics show that this trend is likely to continue:

  • On average, more than half of the households in the U.S. have pets.

  • The majority of pet owners today are millennials, many of whom are childless and, in a sense, use pets as a proxy for children, caring for them in much the same way.

  • The American Veterinary Medical Association conducted a survey that says 80% of pet owners view their pets as members of their family.

The Latest Laws Concerning Pets

For years, pets have been viewed as property by the legal system. This means that during the divorce process, when the judge, the lawyers, and the spouses would consider who should get the pets, they would make such a determination in much the same way that they would decide on who gets a car or a couch. However, due to the recent trends in pet ownership, new legislation has passed that moves the legal system more toward viewing pets as what they are: living, breathing beings who many argue deserve many of the same rights as people. In particular, the following legal decisions have been made recently:

  • Outlawing Animal Cruelty—By 2014, all 50 states had passed legislation making it illegal to be cruel to animals. In November of 2019, a bipartisan bill was signed into law that made animal cruelty a federal crime, a major step forward in moving the legal definition of animals away from mere property.

  • Pet Protection Orders—In at least 34 states, if you suspect abuse toward a pet, you can request that a judge include that pet in protection orders related to domestic violence. This does not just protect the pet against harm; it also proves that pets are no longer viewed as property in the legal system.

  • Pet Custody—In three states, including Illinois, laws have been passed that enable pets to be viewed more like children in divorce cases. In Illinois, the well-being and best interests of the pet should be given thorough consideration when determining who will own the pet, similar to how a child’s well-being and best interests are considered during child custody hearings. In fact, in all three states where these laws have passed—Alaska, Illinois, and California—judges have the right to assign either sole ownership or joint ownership of pets to divorcing spouses. Many other states are considering adopting such laws as well.

Contact a DuPage County Pet Custody Lawyer

If you are considering a divorce, and you are wondering what will happen with your pet, contact a Wheaton divorce attorney at 630-871-1002 for a free consultation. Andrew Cores Family Law Group will guide you through the process and help you ensure that the well-being and best interests of your pets are taken into consideration every step of the way.

Sources:

https://time.com/5763775/pet-custody-divorce-laws-dogs/

https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/breaking/ct-met-pet-custody-law-20171218-story.html

https://aldf.org/issue/animals-legal-status/

How to Look for Hidden Assets During Your Illinois Divorce

DuPage County property division attorney for hidden assetsSometimes, by the time people get divorced, they do not even recognize each other anymore. Over the years, a sense of mistrust might have festered. Misgivings about your spouse and his or her motivations often contribute to the decision to file for divorce. As the divorce drives you two even further apart, it becomes easier and easier to keep things from each other. This is when hidden assets become an even greater possibility. If you suspect your spouse might be hiding assets from you and your attorneys, what should you do? There are a few things that require further investigation from you and your lawyers to make sure no asset is left buried.

What to Do During the Hunt for Hidden Assets

Financial fraud during divorce is much easier to commit than it is to expose. There is quite a bit of detective work that goes into finding those hidden assets, bringing them to light, and enabling them to be divided along with other marital property during a divorce. Here are some ways you and your lawyer might be able to hunt for hidden assets:

  • Take an Inventory—Collect all of the financial documentation for both you and your spouse. Be very thorough and organized in your collection of this paperwork. You need to have a strong baseline to judge your financial picture against that of your spouse. If you notice specific inconsistencies, then you know where to look first for possible hidden assets.

  • Study Tax Returns—Tax returns can reveal a great deal about a spouse’s financial history. By comparing tax returns from year to year, you and your attorney will be able to more easily decipher the data and discover hidden assets. For instance, there could be some itemized deductions (on Schedule A); interest and dividends (on Schedule B); business profits or losses (on Schedule C); capital gains and losses (on Schedule D); or supplemental income and losses (on Schedule E) that can indicate what might be missing from the finances your spouse is reporting.

  • Review Mortgage Documentation—When you apply for a mortgage, you must report all of your finances. The underwriters put you through a comprehensive and stringent auditing process that provides a clear and in-depth picture of your finances. They cannot give you and your spouse that mortgage without such detailed due diligence. That is why those papers are so important to your search for hidden assets. There might be assets or properties reported there that were not reported during the divorce.

  • Conduct a Physical Search—Both actual property and paper trails leading to certain assets might be found in physical locations where you and your spouse keep important items. Consider conducting a search of safes, safe deposit boxes, and other typical “hiding spots” for important possessions.

How Will Your Lawyer Help with the Hunt?

In addition to helping you with all of the aforementioned ways to find hidden assets, your lawyer can also do the following:

  • Engage in Aggressive Research—Many lawyers are accustomed to searching for—and locating—hidden assets during divorces. They know exactly where to look and how to optimize their research.

  • Enlist the Help of Industry Experts—Your lawyer may work with a forensic accountant who will review your and your spouse’s tax returns for any inconsistencies. They will investigate your respective financial histories to make sure every last cent is accounted for. If they cannot locate something, they will attempt to find it and arrange for it to be included in your divorce case.

  • Subpoenas—When you, your lawyer, or financial experts need additional support for your findings, or when you suspect further financial culpability on the part of your spouse, your lawyer has the right to subpoena banks and other similar institutions for supplemental records.

Contact a Wheaton, IL Asset Division Lawyer

The hunt for hidden assets can be long and involved. That is why you need a skilled DuPage County divorce attorney on your side to make sure you leave no financial documents buried. With the assistance of Andrew Cores Family Law Group, you will be able to track down all those hidden assets that you have a hunch about. Call 630-871-1002 for a free consultation.

Sources:

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/financial-fraud-and-divor_b_8210922

https://www.forbes.com/sites/catherineschnaubelt/2019/03/08/finding-hidden-assets-in-a-divorce/#6d1f0a1e6fd1