IL divorce lawyerPreparing to end your marriage is a serious decision that requires careful planning and analysis. Some couples who are unsure whether the relationship is completely over consider a temporary legal separation, rather than ending the relationship with a divorce. Before you make up your mind, it is essential to understand how legal separation and divorce differ in Illinois, as well as the potential benefits and drawbacks of both.

Divorce

The most important difference between divorce and legal separation is that divorce is final, while legal separation is not. Once a couple is divorced, each partner is free to get married again. For couples who are certain that their relationship has dissolved beyond the possibility of recovery, divorce is likely the best option.

During their divorce, couples must divide financial assets and debts, and resolve important issues like child support and parenting time. This is also true of legal separation, but the divorce process also provides the option of freezing assets due to a partner’s dissipative behavior or other financial risks.

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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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IL divorce lawyerCouples in Illinois who have worked hard to develop notable careers have also often accumulated substantial assets together. When a couple has liquid financial assets that are worth a million dollars or more, a couple can be considered high net worth. Spouses with a net worth of five million dollars are considered very high net worth while having over $30 million in assets earns a couple the distinction of being considered ultra-high net worth.

Whatever the exact value of a high-net-worth couple’s assets, there is no question that divorce becomes substantially more complicated when such a couple decides to separate. This blog discusses some of the unique challenges that these couples face during divorce.

A Longer Divorce Process

Unsurprisingly, larger and more complex financial assets contribute to a longer and more complex asset division process. The division of assets is notorious for being one of the toughest parts of a divorce, and especially when assets are difficult to value or when spouses cannot agree about how an asset should be divided. Inheritance, and the commingling of individually owned inheritance monies, can compound these problems. The same is true of spouses who attempt to hide marital assets.

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IL divorce lawyerWhile the marital asset division process in an Illinois divorce is fundamentally the same for everyone, couples or individuals with a high net worth have special considerations. Because high net worth assets are often complex, unique, or otherwise difficult to value, it is important to have the knowledge and assistance of a qualified Illinois divorce attorney and other financial professionals to help you throughout this process.

Are We Considered High Net Worth?

A person or couple’s “net worth” is the value of the assets they own, minus any debts or liabilities. The Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) is a governmental agency with the responsibility of ensuring fair market practices in the United States and the SEC defines a couple as being high net worth if their net worth exceeds one million dollars. A couple must also make over $300,000 a year in combined income.

Couples who have been working for many years may be surprised to find that they fall into the high net worth category, especially because this level of assets and income does not necessarily allow for a lavish lifestyle. Nevertheless, if you meet this threshold for high net worth, treat your divorce accordingly.

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IL divorce lawyerOne of the greatest mistakes people make during their Illinois divorce is not planning for life after the divorce is over. Because many spouses are covered under their husband or wife’s employee health insurance, they may forget about dealing with health insurance and find themselves scrambling for coverage.

This is especially true for spouses who have been out of the workforce for many years because they are stay-at-home parents or homemakers. Private health insurance coverage can cost hundreds of dollars a month and divorcees may struggle to find a plan they can afford. Fortunately, Illinois has a law that allows individuals to continue receiving health insurance coverage from their former spouse’s plan following the divorce. Although this option does not last forever, it can be a good option for someone who would otherwise be uninsured.

How Can I Stay on My Spouse’s Insurance Plan?

Someone who wishes to remain on their former spouse’s insurance plan following a divorce must notify the spouse’s employer within 30 days of the final divorce decree. The insurance company will then send the non-employee spouse notification of continued coverage and other appropriate forms.

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