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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 divorce attorneyDuring the process of divorce, you are likely to experience many changes to your life. With all of the uncertainty that abounds, it is not uncommon for people in the midst of a divorce to try to maintain a level of security and stability by continuing to live in their marital home, even after their divorce is finalized. Staying in the family home, however, is not always quite so simple.

Crucial Considerations Regarding the Family Home

The family home is usually included in the division of marital property, so the question of which spouse, if either, will retain possession of the home will need to be legally resolved. If you are deciding whether you should pursue possession of the home, there are a number of important questions to consider, including:

  • What is the state of the real estate market? If the home market is particularly hot and your home is likely to sell at a substantial profit, your best bet might be to sell and move into a new house—one that better fits your post-divorce situation. If the market is sluggish, you might be better off staying put.

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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.

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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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Wheaton, IL divorce attorney for professional practice division

When going through a divorce, a couple will need to divide up their property. According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), marital property is divided using “equitable distribution.” This means any property or assets acquired during the marriage must be divided fairly, but not necessarily equally. If one spouse is a doctor, dentist, lawyer, psychologist, accountant, or any professional who owns his or her own practice or business, this can complicate matters. Like any piece of the marital estate, several factors will be considered to determine how to divide a professional practice or business during the divorce proceedings. It is important to seek legal counsel so you know your rights when it comes to splitting this valuable asset.

Factors the Court Will Consider

A professional practice or business is subject to division in a divorce unless there is a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that specifies how ownership of this asset will be handled. In many cases, the court will consider which spouse has contributed the most to the practice and allow that spouse to keep ownership of the practice, while the other spouse will receive marital assets that are of a similar value.

If one spouse opened his or her practice or business during the marriage, it is classified as marital property. On the other hand, if it was started prior to the union, it may still be considered part of the marital estate if the other spouse made significant contributions to establish the practice or keep it running. These contributions may include using marital money to finance the business or working at the practice as an employee.

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