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Wheaton divorce attorneyThe long-term financial effects of divorce can be expensive. If both spouses work, you will need to learn how to survive on just a single income. That one income has to cover utilities, food, and other expenses, as well as fund savings and retirement investments. However, planning ahead can help. If you are considering a divorce, financial advisors suggest taking the following steps so you are on firmer financial ground if and when you decide to file.

Know Your Current Financial Situation

To begin, it is important to know your current financial standing. First, acquire all copies of any bank accounts and investment statements for the past year. You should also make copies of any income tax returns filed for the past several years. Request your credit report so you can see exactly what debts you owe.

Next, consider consulting with an attorney to find out what the bigger picture would look like if you make the decision to end your marriage. Illinois is an “equitable distribution” state, which means marital property will be divided fairly between you and your spouse, not necessarily equally. To ensure the equitable distribution of your property, the law requires full disclosure of all assets and obligations.

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DuPage County divorce attorneyFor many people, the decision to end their marriage is not a sudden one, but one that is made after a period during which there has been a gradual erosion of the relationship. If you are considering a divorce, or you have already made the decision, you should take certain steps to gather all the legal and financial information and documentation you will need to help you reach the best possible divorce settlement.

Preparing Yourself Emotionally for Divorce

Even if you are the one who is seeking the divorce, you will most likely find yourself navigating an emotional roller coaster over your decision. As difficult as it may be, try to avoid allowing these emotions to rule your behavior. Seeking out the services of a professional therapist often helps in staying focused, even more so than confiding in family and friends. A therapist is unbiased and can help guide you through working through the feelings you are dealing with about the divorce. What you share with the therapist is also confidential, unlike sharing with a friend, who may repeat what you tell them, possibly allowing the information to get back to your spouse.

Assessing Marital Assets and Debts

Before the divorce process begins, you should also do some research to find out the status of any assets and property that you and your spouse own. If you had a prenuptial agreement drawn up before you were married, it may include important terms related to property division. You should also look for ownership documentation for any property that you and your spouse have. Along with physical property, you should make a list of all of the joint and separate financial accounts belonging to you and your spouse. This not only includes checking and saving accounts, but also all retirement, pension, and investment accounts. Gather the most recent copies of each account’s statement so that you are well-informed about their current status and value.

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DuPage County divorce lawyer for hidden assetsWhen a couple reaches the point where their marriage is irretrievably broken, they will likely seek a divorce. The process of legally ending a marriage can be complicated, especially if there are a lot of issues to resolve. If spouses are argumentative or bitter, this may only further complicate matters. Part of the divorce proceedings involve dividing any marital property or assets. In some situations, one of the spouses may try to hide monetary funds or other valuable possessions. A study by the National Endowment for Financial Education found that 31 percent of spouses with combined assets report they were deceptive about money, and 58 percent of those people admitted to hiding money from their partner or spouse. In divorce cases involving hidden assets, it is imperative to hire professional legal assistance to uncover such deception.

Division of Marital Assets

In the state of Illinois, marital property and assets are divided using the principle of “equitable distribution.” This means they will be split fairly, but not necessarily completely 50/50. Any assets that were acquired during the matrimonial union may be subject to division. Anything that one of the spouses owned prior to the marriage does not have to be split, unless the other spouse contributed to its value in some way. For example, if one party owned a business before getting married, but his or her spouse helped run it during the marriage, that spouse may be able to receive reimbursement for his or her contributions to any increase in the value of the business.

Separate property is considered anything acquired by a spouse before the marriage. However, a gift or inheritance received during the marriage can also be classified as the personal property of one spouse. A prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement may also be used to classify certain assets as separate property. At the time of divorce, any property that is labeled as separate property belongs to the spouse who acquired it.

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Posted on in Pets in Divorce

Wheaton divorce attorney for pet custodyFor couples who have decided to get a divorce, one issue that may catch them unprepared is how to deal with the family pet, if they have one. In some cases, a pet may be beloved by both spouses, and neither one can imagine life without it. The law, of course, provides guidelines on how to deal with issues involving children of divorcing parents, and decisions about the allocation of parental responsibility and parenting time are made based on what is in children’s best interests. However, pets are often a different story.

Changes to the Laws on Pet Ownership After Divorce

While divorce has been around for a long time, new and increasingly complex issues often arise in divorce cases. As a result, legislatures must pass new laws to address or respond to these new issues. Illinois is no exception, and one area the legislature has recently addressed is pet ownership after divorce.

In the past, pets were treated as property, and therefore, their ownership was determined in the same manner as all other marital property. However, there is no rational way to split ownership of a pet based on a percentage, neither is it humane to treat a pet the same as a piece of furniture. When factoring in the emotional nature of decisions related to family pets, the need for the legislature to act on these matters becomes evident.

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DuPage County divorce lawyersBuilding a life together as a married couple inevitably involves the accumulation of personal assets. The time and effort it took to financially afford and personally choose these items cannot be measured in dollars alone. Facing the prospect of dividing years of memories and hard work these items represent due to divorce requires some ability to look at this situation with objective eyes. Neither should expect to get everything they want.

Part of this evaluation is having a realistic sense of what percentage of marital property each spouse should expect to receive, and Illinois is not a community property state that guarantees each spouse 50 percent of all property. Instead, it follows equitable distribution rules that base property division in divorce on what is most fair under the circumstances, which creates a vague standard that is at the discretion of the judge. As a result, spouses should make all efforts to mutually agree on property division, so the outcome is known, but also having an understanding of how courts view this issue and the process judges use to formulate a settlement is important as well.

Property Division Laws

One of the most important things to understand about property division in an Illinois divorce is that only marital property may be divided. Non-marital property, including inheritances, gifts, and property owned before marriage by one spouse and kept separate, remain with the person who purchased or received these assets. Further, Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, so the misconduct of a spouse during marriage, outside of using marital funds for non-marital purposes, will not factor into a court’s analysis of property division. Instead, the judge will work through a long list of prescribed factors to determine which allocation of assets and liabilities would be most fair. Some of these factors include:

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