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Palatine divorce asset division lawyerDivorce rocks the finances of every couple, including those with higher incomes and assets. Weathering the fallout of the loss of a combined income and the division of marital assets is one of the hardest adjustments any divorced person must make. Knowing which assets to take and which are better off relinquished or sold is not easy, especially when factoring in the emotional attachment spouses form over certain items. However, finding the right balance is the only way most divorced individuals have a realistic chance of recovering from this financial shift. The marital home is the largest physical asset most couples own, and it often looms large in the property settlement process.

Equitable division is the rule that governs property division in Illinois, which means the court will look for a fair division of assets, but not necessarily an equal one. Under this system, a spouse may be required to argue why he or she should receive a certain asset. When addressing the marital home, specific questions should be asked before making a strong stance in favor of keeping this property.

Questions to Ask About Keeping the Family Home

In many cases, at least one spouse will form a strong attachment to the family home, and either spouse may find it difficult to think of selling the home or giving up ownership to the other spouse. Good reasons do exist for keeping the home, including providing continuity for children, maintaining some form of financial security, and the possibility of appreciation in value.

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Posted on in Divorce

premarital agreements,  division of assets, divorce process, Illinois prenuptial agreement, prenuptial agreementOutside of the emotional benefits that most people connect with marriage, being married also offers financial advantages for central issues, such as health insurance and tax liability. However, these advantages can turn into detriments if a marriage ends in divorce. Without a prenuptial agreement, parties are expected to divide their assets in roughly equal proportions.

While predicting financial success at the outset of marriage is nearly impossible, couples expecting productive careers and those with substantial assets at the beginning of the marriage often consider premarital agreements to iron out the division of assets and maintenance (spousal support) in case divorce does occur.

The underlying assumption is that both parties enter into these agreements freely and with sufficient information to make an informed decision about the fairness of the arrangement. The reality, of course, is not always so simple, and circumstances may motivate a spouse to challenge the validity of such an agreement when divorce enters the picture.

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online document prep, divorce attorney, Palatine divorce attorneyThere are a variety of online companies that offer document preparation and do-it-yourself forms for couples going through a divorce or needing assistance with child custody issues. These sites promise to save users significant amounts of money in attorney fees and to resolve their issues amicably and without protracted litigation. However, document preparation sites are a poor substitute for the advice of a qualified, experienced legal professional.

Listed below are suggestions to consider before deciding to handle any family law issue on your own.

Individualized service. Every divorce is different. However, document preparation sites approach divorces the same way. These sites offer a simplified approach—users check a box to select and draft legal documents. Yet many people do not understand all of the issues that must settled in a divorce. Additionally, if users neglect to check an appropriate box, the proper forms will not be suggested, and they may find themselves in Court months or years later to resolve an issue they never knew they had.

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marital home, Palatine divorce attorneyIf you have been following the divorce saga of Illinois’ richest man, hedge-fund billionaire Ken Griffin, you may have read that his wife recently filed Court documents alleging that Griffin plans to end her exclusive occupancy of the couple’s marital home and will no longer pay upkeep costs.

While many of us cannot relate to the lives of the very wealthy, the case raises a question that comes up almost every time when meeting with a client for the first time — who gets to live in the marital home during the divorce?

Temporary Relief for Possession of Marital Home

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enforce property claims, Palatine division of assets attorneyTaboos regarding cohabitation are quickly becoming passe as many of today’s couples are opting to live together before – and sometimes in lieu of – marriage. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, unmarried couples comprised 45 percent of all U.S. households in 2010. But until recently, unmarried Illinois couples who ended a relationship had no rights to enforce property claims against an ex-partner, or otherwise divide assets, due to their unmarried status.

Blumenthal v. Brewer: Allowing Property Claims against Unmarried Ex-Partner

In Blumenthal v. Brewer, the Chicago couple had been in a committed relationship for 26 years. They lived together, commingled assets, and raised three children. In all ways, they acted as a married couple. Yet they were unmarried due to same-sex marriage being illegal in Illinois. Brewer, an attorney, had stayed home for several years to raise the children. Her partner, however, built a lucrative medical practice. At the end of the relationship, Blumenthal’s net worth was $500,000 more than Brewer’s.

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division of assets, Palatine divorce attorneyMy spouse and I have been married 15 years. I want to get a divorce, but I have been a stay-at-home mom for the past 10 years. I have no money, and everything is in my spouse's name. I do not know how I will be able to start over from scratch.

Questions similar to the one above are often posted to social media and divorce-related websites, and understandably, those in these situations are concerned. When it comes to divorce, there is a difference between marital and separate property, and separate property is not involved in the division of property. But simply because one spouse's name is not on a title does not make it separate property.

Property Division in Illinois Divorce

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dividing pensions, division of assets, Palatine divorce attorney, property division, retirement assets, social security benefits, SSI benefitsAll divorce cases involve a division of assets, whether it is an even 50-50 split or a different ratio that the Court decides is equitable based on the circumstances. When dividing pensions and other retirement assets, a non-owner spouse can choose to either receive property in an amount equal to his or her portion of the benefits at the time of a divorce, or as a monthly distribution when the owner-spouse becomes eligible to receive it. However, what happens when one spouse contributes more money to Social Security instead of an employer-sponsored pension?

Division of Pension and SSI Benefits

Employers generally withhold a portion of an employee’s salary for Social Security benefits. These benefits are paid as a monthly benefit once an employee reaches federal retirement age. Similar to a pension, money earned during a marriage is withheld from an employee’s paycheck and held for later distribution.

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Posted on in Divorce

asset valuation, divorce asset valuation, Palatine divorce attorney, Illinois divorce attorney, division of property, marital property, division of assets, property valuationGetting divorced means deciding how to divide the assets. However, before you can agree upon the division of assets, you must first assign a value to those assets.

Valuation Date for Illinois Divorce Assets

Under Illinois law, assets in a divorce are valued as of the date of trial, or as close to it as possible. Assigning value to an asset can sometimes be difficult, either due to circumstances (the trial date is postponed the day before) or the type of asset (stock prices fluctuate based on changing markets).

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Posted on in Division of Property

pets and Illinois divorce, pets, custody of pets, division of assets, Palatine divorce attorney, pet custody, pets and divorce, pets and Illinois divorce, property distributionAccording to Schaumburg, Illinois-based American Veterinary Medical Association, 51.8 percent of Illinois residents are pet owners. For many of these residents, their animal companions are more than pets — they are four-legged family members  and are as beloved as children. And like children, deciding who receives custody of the pets in a divorce can become heated.

Obtaining Custody of Pets in Illinois Divorce Illinois Courts consider pets as personal property, no different than bank accounts, vehicles or other household belongings. This means they are just another asset to consider when determining the most equitable way to divide assets. The Court will not conduct a custody hearing, and there will not be “best interests” factors to consider when deciding who should receive the pet. However, there are steps you can take to increase the likelihood that the Judge will award you custody of your pet. Retain copies of all receipts. Because pets are personal property, you must be able to prove a greater ownership interest than your spouse in regards to your pet. Documents showing that the pet was registered in your name, receipts from veterinary bills (especially if paid from your separate property) or other evidence showing as you as the pet’s primary caretaker can help prove that the Court should award you the pet. Prove your ability to care for the pet. Even though pets are property, they are different from a car or bank account — they require active care. Being able to show that you are better able to care for the pet than your spouse may help sway the Court’s decision. Other determining factors which may help prove you are in a better position to care for the pet include your spouse having a job that requires frequent travel, his moving into an apartment or rental home that does not allow pets or evidence of allergies. Agree to a custody schedule. Although the Court will not engage in a custody determination the way it will with children, this does not mean it will not consider a custody arrangement if one or both of the parties present one. For couples with children, it may be helpful to keep the pets on the same visitation schedule as the children. Obtain a pre- or post-marital agreement. Though not an option if you are in the middle of a divorce, either a pre- or post-marital agreement will allow you to address the issue of who will receive the pet in the event of divorce. Palatine Divorce Attorney If you are planning on filing for divorce, or if you have just been served with divorce papers from your spouse, contact Palatine divorce attorney Nicholas W. Richardson today for a free consultation. With more than a decade worth of experience handling divorce and other family law matters, Nicholas W. Richardson understands the complex emotions that can arise and knows when to approach each issue in the spirit of compromise — and when to dig in and fight. Call the Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson, P.C., today to discuss your case.

absent spouse, division of assets, divorce by publication, Illinois divorce, Palatine divorce attorney, child support, divorce of an absent spouseWhen a couple decides to end their marriage, one or both spouses may file for divorce. However, in some cases, a marriage can end when one spouse simply walks out and leaves the other spouse wondering what went wrong and questioning his or her spouse's whereabouts. In this situation, the spouse who was left behind is placed in a difficult position. The commencement of all civil actions, including divorce, requires that the other party be served with the petition. Therefore, if one does not know where his or her spouse is, how can he or she serve the spouse with divorce papers? Although challenging, divorcing an absent spouse can be accomplished.

Palatine Divorce by Publication If you do not know your spouse’s location, you can not simply file for divorce and state that you cannot find him or her. In order to get divorced in your spouse’s absence, you must prove to the Court that you performed due diligence in attempting to locate him or her. Hence, you must exhaust all options in trying to uncover his or her whereabouts. Due diligence in this situation may include:
  • Attempting to contact your spouse at his or her last known address;
  • Attempting to contact your spouse at his or her last known employer;
  • Asking family members or close friends of his or her whereabouts;
  • Performing an Internet search, including a search of social media sites; or
  • Searching property records in your spouse's area of residence.
This is not an exhaustive list, but only representative of the type of search you may undertake to locate your spouse. The circumstances of each individual case dictate where and how extensively you should search. If the absent spouse cannot be located after conducting a diligent search, then you must file an affidavit with the Court. An affidavit is a sworn statement where you explain to the Court all the ways you attempted to locate your spouse. After submitting the affidavit, you may publish a notice to the absent spouse in the newspaper. The notice must describe the divorce action and the date of any Court proceedings. It must be published in a newspaper in the county where the divorce was filed, unless the county has a population of less than two million, in which case it must be filed in a newspaper in the municipality where you lived as a couple. The notice must be published once a week for three consecutive weeks. Once 30 days have passed since the first publication, you are free to move for an entry of uncontested default, which means the Judge will issue an order of divorce in spite of your spouse’s absence. There are, however, disadvantages to divorce by publication. The Court cannot make any decisions regarding maintenance (alimony), child support or division of assets if your spouse is not present. You can re-open the case if your absent spouse returns, but it is in your best interest to locate your spouse, even to the point of hiring a private investigator to have a Court determination of all the issues, particularly if there are children involved and you need child support. Palatine Divorce Attorney If you are contemplating divorce, contact Palatine divorce attorney Nicholas W. Richardson today to schedule a consultation. With more than a decade of experience handling divorce, child custody and other family law matters, Nicholas W. Richardson is an experienced, compassionate divorce attorney who can help guide you through any issue that may arise.

Posted on in Divorce

dating during divorce in illinoisbill winding its way through the Massachusetts legislature wants to ban couples going through a divorce with children from having sex or even dating until the divorce is finalized, unless the Court grants permission. Illinois has no law prohibiting dating during the divorce proceedings but that does not mean that dating during divorce is a good idea.

Why Dating During Divorce is a Bad Idea

There are a number of emotional and practical reasons why dating before the divorce is finalized may not be a good idea.

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joint simplified dissolution of marriage, Palatine divorce attorney, Palatine divorce lawyerThe wedding is a faded memory now, and you and your spouse agree that divorce is the best option. You have accumulated very few assets, and you both agree on the division of assets. Since you are both on the same page, is there a faster, easier way to end the marriage? In Illinois there is, and it is called joint simplified dissolution.

Requirements for Joint Simplified Dissolution

Joint simplified dissolution is available to Illinois residents who have been married for less than eight years and can agree how to divide both the marital property and marital debts. It is a streamlined process that greatly minimizes the stress of a contested divorce and can keep costs down. You and your spouse can complete the paperwork together, and can appear in Court for the hearing and entry of judgment the same day the petition is filed. Only one Court appearance is required.

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QDRO, retirement plan, retirement savings, Illinois retirement lawyer, Family law attorney in PalatineThroughout your marriage, you and your spouse saved in anticipation of retirement. Your spouse put five percent of his/her monthly salary into a company funded retirement plan, which equates to 10 percent when including the company match. You both looked forward to retirement spending your golden years traveling, playing golf and relaxing. Now, however, you find yourself in the middle of a divorce. Most of your assets can easily be divided, except those retirement accounts, which are payable only to your wife. What can you do?

You can get a QDRO (pronounced quad-row).

QDRO for Dividing Illinois Retirement Accounts

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