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will county divorce lawyerMany people who have friends in other states who have gone through a divorce can are surprised to learn that property division during divorce varies from state to state. Community property laws dictate a 50-50 split of all marital property. Illinois is among the majority of states using equitable division laws as opposed to community property laws. Equitable distribution involves a fair but not necessarily equal distribution of marital assets.

Illinois law can be rather complex when it comes to determining the distribution of marital property, and a number of factors can influence court decisions in these cases. The value of property, the spouses’ earning capacity, and each party’s contribution to the marital estate can all be factors that dictate how property will be distributed.

How Equitable Distribution Applies to Your Divorce

Courts only utilize equitable distribution when divorcing spouses cannot negotiate an agreement regarding their marital property settlement. Equitable distribution will only apply to marital property, or the property that was acquired during the marriage. It does not include property obtained during the marriage by gift or inheritance, which is considered separate property.

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shutterstock_1040307988.jpgThroughout a marriage, couples wind up sharing virtually everything from a house to bank accounts. When spouses decide to make the difficult decision to file for divorce and dissolve their marriage, they must discuss how to divide this shared marital property. They may consult a divorce attorney to discuss who will remain in the family home, which spouse will receive most parenting time or custody of the children, and how debt payments will be divided and paid off. Most people focus on these big-ticket items. However, many other types of overlooked shared marital property are essential to consider when filing for divorce

Pets

Spouses may overlook pets when considering how to divide shared marital property during a divorce. Although pets may feel like family members, pets are considered property in Illinois. Before 2018, when deciding who gets what during a divorce, pets were treated the same as any other type of property. The court did not award joint ownership or make “pet custody” arrangements. New provisions enacted after 2018 allow spouses to create joint ownership agreements for pets and consider the pets’ best interests.

Airline and Travel Points 

Credit cards and shared debts are often considered in divorce proceedings. However, many people tend to push aside included assets, such as airline mileage points. If both spouses shared a credit card or had shared expenses and debts, they will also share the incentives, such as travel points. 

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IL divorce lawyerWhen two people marry, they join their lives as well as their finances. A huge part of the divorce process is reversing this financial entanglement. Spouses will need to either decide how to divide their jointly held assets or have the court divide assets for them. This process can become very complicated, especially when spouses have complex or high-value assets.

Out-of-Court Property Division Settlements

Ideally, divorcing spouses can work out a property division agreement on their own. Out-of-court settlements can save divorcing spouses time, frustration, and money. There are several alternative resolution methods that may help spouses reach an agreement on the division of debts and assets. Mediation is a process during which spouses meet with a mediator who helps them discuss unresolved divorce issues and develop a solution that works for both parties. Collaborative law is a process during which the spouses and their attorneys work collaboratively to reach a divorce settlement.

Property Division Decided by the Court

Some spouses are unable to reach a property division settlement through alternative resolution methods or other means. In this case, the court will divide marital property based on a legal doctrine called “equitable distribution.” The couple’s shared property will be divided fairly based on many different factors, including:

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Naperville Marital Property Divorce LawyerPeople often assume that the emotional and personal aspects of their divorce will be the hardest issues to deal with. However, many are surprised to learn just how complicated the financial and logistical parts of the divorce are. The division of marital property can be particularly complex – especially if the spouses have high incomes or own complex assets. If you are planning to divorce in Illinois, you may have questions about what property belongs to you, what belongs to your spouse, and what property is contained in the marital estate.

Marital and Non-Marital Property

Per Illinois law, assets and income that a spouse earns while he or she is married is marital property contained within the marital estate. There are a few exceptions to this rule, including inheritance and gifts. Property that a spouse owned before getting married is separate property and belongs solely to that individual during divorce.

However, as with many legal issues during divorce, differentiating between marital and non-marital property is not always this simple. Numerous factors can complicate property division, including:

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DuPage County Divorce AttorneyDuring the divorce process, spouses will need to address multiple types of financial issues. Many of these issues will be related to the division of marital property, in which spouses must determine how all of the assets and debts they acquired during their marriage will be allocated. While dividing some types of property may be a straightforward process, a variety of complex considerations may arise when addressing assets such as retirement savings and benefits. A qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) may need to be created to ensure that these assets are divided properly, and an experienced family law attorney can make sure this type of order is created and executed correctly.

Benefits of Using a QDRO

Spouses will often save money in retirement accounts, including 401(k) accounts provided through an employer or individual retirement accounts (IRAs). Depending on the decisions made during the property division process, the funds in an account may be divided between the parties. However, if the proper procedures are not followed, withdrawing funds from an account before the account holder reaches the age of retirement can result in penalties, and taxes may also apply to these withdrawals.

Early withdrawal penalties and taxes can be avoided through the use of a QDRO, which is a court order that instructs the administrator of a retirement plan to distribute funds to someone other than the account holder. A QDRO may state that a specific dollar amount or a percentage of the funds in an account should be withdrawn and transferred to the account holder’s ex-spouse. In addition to allowing funds to be transferred without incurring penalties, taxes will not apply if the recipient rolls the funds over into a retirement account in their own name.

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