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Wheaton divorce attorneyPerhaps you have scoured flea markets and auctions for years to build your collection of antique furniture. Maybe your coin collection has been growing since you were a young child and has only increased in value during your adulthood. Collectables such as these are not only valuable in the financial sense, but they are also valuable in the personal sense.

If you own an impressive collection of stamps, coins, trading cards, records, antiques, memorabilia, or other items of significant value, these assets can impact your divorce considerably. A skilled divorce lawyer can help you determine the best way to account for collectibles in your divorce case and ensure that your rights are protected during the division of marital property.

The First Step is Having Your Assets Professionally Valued

Determining the value of a collection is challenging for several reasons. Firstly, the value of antiques and other unique collectibles is often up for debate. The value of these items can also fluctuate as the market ebbs and flows. Furthermore, the collection as a whole is often more valuable than the items’ individual values. Before you can account for collectibles in your divorce, you will need to get the assets professionally valued by an appraiser.

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Wheaton IL divorce lawyerOfficially ending a marriage through divorce is much more than simply breaking up a relationship. Numerous financial and legal issues will need to be addressed including the division of marital debts and assets. However, before a couple can reach a property division agreement, they must first take stock of their marital and non-marital property. In many divorce cases, correctly valuing these assets in preparation for division is one of the most challenging aspects of the divorce.

Determining the Value of Complex Assets

Per Illinois law, spouses are entitled to an equitable share of the marital estate. The marital estate contains property that was accumulated during the marriage with some notable exceptions such as property obtained through gift or inheritance. Whether spouses are able to reach an out-of-court settlement or the case goes to litigation, property must be properly valued before it can be divided. Some assets that are often especially difficult to value include:

Business interests – If a spouse or couple owns a business or has business interests, the value of the assets will need to be calculated in order for the asset to be properly addressed during the divorce. The spouses may want to work with a skilled accountant or business valuation specialist in addition to their divorce lawyer to determine the best way to accurately value the business. Another consideration that makes dividing a business during divorce challenging is that part of the business assets may be classified as marital and part classified as non-marital. Even if a business was acquired before the marriage, the non-owner spouse may be entitled to a portion of the business’s proceeds.

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wheaton divorce lawyerIn large part, getting a divorce is a financial transaction that requires the couple to fairly divide their marital assets and debts. This can include everything from the marital home and the associated mortgage, to bank accounts, retirement savings, vehicles, and household items. However, one of the most contentious subjects for many couples is how to handle credit card debt. If your marriage and finances are currently struggling, here are some things you should consider.

Credit Card Debt is a Common Cause of Divorce

A recent study shows that divorce is up to 30 percent more likely for married couples who argue about finances, and credit card debt is a common focus of such arguments. Unlike a mortgage, credit card debt can accumulate due to a spouse’s irresponsible spending habits, sometimes before the other spouse even realizes what is happening. This can contribute to mistrust and resentment that ultimately leads to irreconcilable differences. If you hope to have a chance of saving your marriage, working together to manage your debt may be your best option.

Most Credit Card Debt Will Need to Be Divided

If you do proceed with a divorce, you should know that in most cases, all credit card debt incurred by either spouse during the marriage will be part of the division of marital property. This includes debt from joint credit card accounts, as well as debt from individual accounts in each spouse’s name. You may be able to prepare for your divorce by paying off as much debt as possible ahead of time. For any debt remaining, you will likely either need to fairly divide it between you and your spouse, or offset it through the distribution of assets. In either case, you should try to update your accounts to prevent a situation in which both spouses are still liable to creditors.

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Wheaton divorce lawyerIn an Illinois divorce, all property and assets belonging to the marital estate must be distributed fairly between the two spouses. However, certain assets known as non-marital property are not included in the division. If you are preparing for a divorce, it is important to review your finances to identify any non-marital property that you can protect. However, the process of protecting your non-marital assets can begin even before your marriage.

Strategies for Protecting Non-Marital Property

Under Illinois law, non-marital property includes property that was owned by either spouse before the marriage, as well as property acquired by either spouse during the marriage through a gift or inheritance. However, even property of this nature can become a factor in the division of assets if you are not careful to keep it separate from the marital estate. Here are some strategies for protecting your non-marital assets both before and during your marriage:

  1. Create a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. If you have substantial assets before getting married, you can ask your future spouse to work with you to create a prenup that specifies the assets that will remain non-marital property. You can also create a postnuptial agreement during the marriage that accomplishes the same purpose.

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DuPage County divorce attorneysWhen a couple gets divorced in Illinois, all of their financial assets will need to be considered in order to determine a fair distribution of marital property. Many people are aware that this includes properties like the marital home, vehicles, and joint bank accounts, but it also includes some assets that you may not expect, like businesses and individual retirement accounts. One of the most complicated kinds of assets that may need to be divided in a divorce is a settlement or verdict from a civil lawsuit.

Dividing Personal Injury Settlements and Other Lawsuit Awards

Illinois law differentiates between non-marital property that belongs to one spouse alone and marital property to which both spouses have a right and which must be divided in a divorce. Assets acquired before the marriage or after a judgment of legal separation are typically considered to be non-marital property, while most assets acquired during the marriage are considered to be marital property. These criteria can apply to lawsuit awards in the same way that they do for many other types of assets.

One common example of a lawsuit award that can complicate the divorce process is a personal injury settlement or verdict. These cases often involve injuries to just one spouse, so the logical assumption may be that compensation for damages would belong solely to the person who was injured. However, a 1980 Illinois Supreme Court judgment clarified that an injury settlement or award granted during the marriage can be considered marital property because it compensates for medical expenses and lost wages that affect the whole family. That said, because Illinois requires an equitable distribution of marital assets rather than an equal split, a court may determine that the injured spouse should be granted a larger share of the award during the divorce.

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