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dupage county divorce lawyerAn engagement ring is an important part of getting married for many people. Engagement rings have a long history, dating all the way back to ancient Roman times when they were made out of things like ivory or iron. Diamond engagement rings did not become popular until the late 1940s when De Beers, a British jeweler, launched one of the most successful ad campaigns in history. The world became convinced that indeed, “Diamonds are forever,” making diamond engagement rings the “standard.” Now, the average American spends around $7,750 on an engagement ring, making it a valuable piece of marital property. One of the questions that many divorcing couples have during the property division process is about the engagement ring. Who gets to keep it?

Property Division Laws

Illinois makes a distinction between marital and nonmarital property during divorce. Illinois law states that any and all marital property is subject to division. Marital property includes any property that either spouse acquired during the marriage or any debt that either of them might have taken on. Nonmarital property is anything that either spouse acquired prior to the marriage. However, there are exceptions to that rule. Property that was acquired through inheritance, property acquired in exchange for that property, property acquired as a gift, and property that is excluded by a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is not part of the marital estate.

Determining Who Gets the Ring 

Illinois law states that gifts are the property of the person who receives them, even in a divorce and even if the gift was exchanged between spouses. A gift that either spouse receives at any point is considered to be nonmarital property. It is customary to give an engagement ring before the marriage, with the intent that the recipient will go through with their promise of betrothal. As long as the marriage happens, the engagement ring is the irrevocable property of the person who received it. 

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DuPage County asset division attorneyIf you and your spouse are on the verge of divorce or have already filed for divorce, you may notice that your spouse is engaging in particularly unusual spending patterns. Be it gambling all the time, neglecting to pay certain bills, or spending exorbitant amounts of money on major purchases without your consent, your spouse might be dissipating marital assets. That is the legal term for when your spouse acts irresponsibly with your joint finances leading up to and during a divorce. Evidence of this dissipation of marital assets can be brought before the court to ensure that you are adequately compensated for any frivolous spending, thereby securing fair and equitable division of property and assets during the divorce. Below are some practical steps you can take if you suspect that your spouse is dissipating assets.

Steps to Take If You Suspect Dissipation

All is not lost if you think that your spouse is cheating you out of assets in real time. There are a few things you can do to protect yourself against dissipation of marital assets:

  1. Compile and analyze all statements from joint accounts. Before you can even move forward with any further action in regards to marital asset dissipation, you need to determine whether your concerns are legitimate enough to spend the time and resources on researching the facts and then arguing your case in court. You need to be particularly perceptive. For example, in reviewing these statements, you should:

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DuPage County family law attorney for prenupsPrenuptial agreements are often associated with very wealthy individuals, and people who seek a prenup may be seen as believing that their marriage will not last. Because of this, a stigma was attached to these agreements, but this has changed over time, and prenuptial agreements are becoming more and more common.

When Is a Prenuptial Agreement Appropriate?

Nowadays, it is routine for marrying couples to discuss, agree to, and sign a prenuptial agreement before they exchange marriage vows and seal their marriage. A prenuptial agreement may be appropriate in a variety of situations, including:

  • One spouse has significantly more assets than the other spouse. In this case, it behooves the spouse with significantly more assets to have a prenuptial agreement in place to protect against the incidental or deliberate inclusion of their assets as marital property in a potential divorce. Ordinarily, assets obtained before a couple’s marriage are considered non-marital property and therefore not subject to division or sharing after divorce.

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Division of marital assets lawyerThe division of marital assets is one of the more complicated aspects of divorce, and retirement accounts present a number of unique issues that can make creating a fair settlement difficult. Since retirement accounts, especially 401(k)s, are accumulated through the individual efforts of one spouse, learning that this asset may be subject to division in a divorce is hard for many to accept. However, any amount in a retirement account classified as a marital asset must be divided, unless the spouses agree otherwise.

Valuing an account and determining how to structure a settlement are complicated matters that do not always have easy answers. Often, a spouse is forced to choose between the pros and cons of short- and long-term options when dividing retirement accounts, and working with an experienced divorce attorney is necessary to receive a complete picture of the implications of any decision. Retirement accounts are often a couple’s most valuable asset, so taking the time to assess how to approach this issue is one of the more critical aspects of a divorce case.

Classifying a Marital Asset

In Illinois, anything accumulated by either spouse during a marriage is considered a marital asset. Thus, for retirement accounts, funds contributed or earned before the marriage would be considered a non-marital asset and exempt from division. Any amount contributed to the account or generated during the marriage would be divided, meaning some percentage of a preexisting retirement account would be part of the divorce settlement. Because the value of retirement accounts can vary greatly from year to year, working with a financial expert to determine what the present and future value of this asset should be is key to working out an appropriate settlement. Assessments can differ, so working with a skilled attorney to negotiate an agreed upon amount is important to resolving this issue.

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marital property, Illinois asset division attorneysWhen two people get married, they often choose to combine all of their financial interests. They may have joint checking and savings accounts, put both names on loan documents and titles, and generally consult with one another about major purchases. Other couples may elect to keep things more separate. These couples may have joint accounts to be used for household bills and other expenses, but they may also have investments or property held in their own names. Whichever option a couple chooses, a divorce may leave more property subject to division than many people realize.

What the Law Says

If a divorcing couple is able to reach a reasonable agreement regarding the division of property, the court will approve the agreement without much a problem in most cases. If the couple cannot agree, however, Illinois law says that a court has the authority to divide the couple’s marital property in a manner that is equitable and just—not necessarily equally. Only marital property is subject to division in a divorce, and determining what constitutes marital property is the first step of the property division process.

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