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Palatine high asset divorce lawyerRecently, Jeff Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, announced via Twitter that they were going to divorce. Jeff Bezos is the founder of Amazon and is thought to be worth approximately $136 billion, making him one of the wealthiest men in the world. The public was soon shocked to learn that they did not have a prenuptial agreement. What does this mean for the Bezos’ divorce? Is it possible that MacKenzie could be left with nothing?

That scenario is not likely. Due to the fact that the Bezos’ live in Washington, a community property state, both spouses are probably going to receive 50 percent of all assets accumulated during the marriage. The news has also left many wondering how this division of property would work if the couple lived in Illinois. The question is a good one, as Illinois operates under very different rules.

Community Property States

Currently, only nine states in the country are community property states: Louisiana, Arizona, California, Texas, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Wisconsin, and of course, Washington. In these states, any income, property, or other assets acquired during a marriage are considered community property. Upon divorce, each spouse will then receive 50 percent of those assets, in most cases. This means that even without a prenuptial agreement, MacKenzie and Jeff Bezos will likely each receive half of the income earned from Amazon during their marriage, in addition to half of the many real estate properties they own and any other financial assets.

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Posted on in Divorce

Arlington Heights divorce attorney foreclosureStruggling to make ends meet puts a strain on the best of relationships, and if it lasts for a considerable period of time and/or is extreme, overcoming this challenge may prove more than a couple can bear. Marital assets and debts must be divided in divorce, and when finances start to break down, the ramifications can reach all the way to the possible loss of a home through foreclosure. Navigating the divorce process is hard enough in straightforward circumstances, but it can become quite complicated when an active foreclosure is being sought, because the mortgage lender has a legitimate interest in how this asset is divided. This situation may be further complicated if one spouse wants to attempt to save the home and assume sole possessory rights and ownership.

In an unusual case, an Illinois appeals court upheld a default judgment that terminated the interest of a divorcing couple’s mortgage lender in the marital home, which was in the middle of a foreclosure, because it failed to respond to a complaint by the husband challenging its validity. While uncommon, this case highlights how intertwined a divorce and a foreclosure can be.

Who Is Responsible for the Debt?

Financing the purchase of a home involves the legal assumption of the obligation to repay a promissory note, the contract that outlines how long and how much the buyer must pay to satisfy the loan. In addition, a lien is placed on the property, which gives the lender the right to repossess the property in the event of default. Most couples jointly sign these documents, making both spouses liable to meet the terms or face foreclosure.

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Mt. Prospect gray divorce property division attorneyThe common perception is that couples who are older and have weathered decades of ups and downs in their relationship will stay together forever. Of course, this is not always the case, and older couples do get divorced, even after 30 or more years of marriage. In fact, divorce among spouses over the age of 50 (known as “gray divorce”) has doubled since the 1990s, meaning more people approaching or in retirement must make major life changes.

Divorce between older couples may be more amicable, but different financial considerations come into play that need to be addressed. Regardless of the length of a marriage, spouses are required to divide marital assets and debts. However, older couples have less time to recover from the financial consequences of dividing everything by half, and they often have more complicated asset portfolios to distribute. Importantly, property division is rarely, if ever, revised by the courts after a divorce has been finalized, so getting it right the first time is crucial.

General Property Division Concerns

Illinois follows the equitable distribution model for property division in divorce that means marital property is divided according to what is fair, rather than strictly down the middle. Marital property includes anything acquired by either spouse during the marriage, as well as certain commingled marital and non-marital assets.

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Posted on in Divorce

division of property, Schaumburg family law attorney, engagement ring, marital property, non-marital propertyWhen a couple decides to marry, no object is more symbolic of this commitment than an engagement ring. The level of commitment this piece of jewelry represents is reflected in the thousands of dollars typically spent. Consequently, if the marriage does not occur, or the relationship ends in divorce, the purchaser of the engagement may want the item back, particularly if the piece of jewelry is a family heirloom. However, the receiver may conceivably view the ring as a gift that was freely given, and thus, not necessary to return. 

These differing points of view can add more tension to an already combustible situation, and while filing a lawsuit to demand the return of the ring may seem tempting, resolving the situation privately is best for reducing additional emotional pain and unnecessary expense. However, in the context of divorce, fighting over a ring is often connected with the bigger question of which assets are considered marital property. An engagement ring, though, maintains a unique status under the law, and thus the right to possession is treated somewhat differently than other kinds of gifts.

Keeping Gifts Generally

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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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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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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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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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divorce, estate plan, lawyer, attorney, family law, Palatine divorce attorneyThe divorce has been finalized; the property divided, and you and your ex-spouse have moved on to the next phase of your lives. There may be one thing you forgot though, something neither of you will remember until it is too late: updating the beneficiary designations on your retirement accounts and life insurance policies.

Most people designate their spouse as the beneficiary of retirement benefits and life insurance proceeds, and then promptly forget about it. Or they may think that the divorce automatically revoked the now ex-spouse’s right to receive these assets at death. In Illinois, this could be a costly mistake. Failure to update your beneficiary designations following a divorce, or failure to include specific waiver of these rights in the divorce decree, can result in your ex-spouse getting the assets at your death.

Automatic Revocation of Estate Plan After Illinois Divorce

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retirement account, asset valuation, asset division, divorce, division of property, Illinois family lawyerFor many couples, retirement accounts, whether 401ks, IRAs or pensions, make up the bulk of their assets. Even if only one spouse contributed to each account during the marriage, the assets are marital property and subject to division in a divorce. If the divorce occurs before the first distribution is made though, how can the accounts be divided without being subject to early withdrawal penalties? A skilled divorce attorney can help you navigate through this process.

Dividing Retirement Accounts

One way to divide retirement accounts is with a qualified domestic relations order, or a QDRO. A QDRO is a special order that requires the retirement plan administrator to either divide the account now, or make distributions to both spouses when they reach retirement age. There are certain requirements the QDRO must contain in order for the plan administrator to make the division, so it is important to meet with an experienced attorney who understands these very specific requirements.

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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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marital & nonmarital property IMAGEBefore you were married, you and your future spouse had no doubt accumulated personal assets. And now as a couple, you and your spouse have likely accumulated marital property for which you can both claim ownership. Divorce is difficult for anyone, but it becomes increasingly more difficult when couples have differing ideas on the division of property during divorce proceedings.

Property Division

Paramount to the determination of who gets what during property division concerns how the property is classified. The property is either classified as marital, meaning that there the couple has joint ownership of the property, or it is classified as nonmarital, which means the individual owns the property.

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