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DuPage County divorce lawyersDivorce is a legally complex process with numerous pitfalls and challenges, which is why parties are advised to each seek their own legal counsel. High asset divorce – a case in which one or both parties has a high net worth or has a higher-than-middle-class income – only further complicates matters. Learn more about the risks associated with a high net worth divorce and how to mitigate against them, and discover how an experienced attorney can help protect your interests and financial future throughout the entire divorce process.

Accurate Valuation of the Marital Estate is Critical

Valuation of the marital estate is a critical element in every divorce, but in a high net worth divorce, the importance is further heightened by the complex (and sometimes inconsistent, fluctuating, or changing) assets involved. Keep in mind that many of the assets may not even be in you or your spouse’s name. Instead, they may be listed under the name of a company, or they may be found in overseas accounts, where tax breaks may be more readily available.

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Posted on in Divorce

Same-Sex Divorce in IllinoisIt has been a little over two years since same-sex marriage became legal in Illinois. Bill Flick, a Pantagraph columnist, recently wrote about how now we are starting to see more same-sex divorce. He quotes an unnamed divorce lawyer who said ‘Even unhappy couples make it a year or two.’ Now that same-sex divorces have started to happen more frequently, it is important to understand them and how they may be the same and different from opposite-sex divorces.

The Divorce Process

The divorce process is the same for same-sex and opposite-sex couples and both need to meet the jurisdictional requirements in order to get a divorce in Illinois. Otherwise, the process is generally the same, and most of the considerations are the same, with a few exceptions including the ones explained below.

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Illinois Supreme Court Rules On Unmarried Property DivisionThe Chicago Tribune reported on a recent Illinois Supreme Court decision regarding property division after cohabitating couples break up. This case was about a lesbian couple who had been together for over 25 years but had recently broken up. The two were never married. The court ruled that the couple was not entitled to the same property division protections that a married couple would have access to.

This Case

This case was brought by Ellen Brewer who was with her partner Dr. Jane Blumenthal for 26 years. They lived together and raised a child together. The couple split up in 2008 before gay marriage was legal in Illinois. The controversy centered around the dividing up of assets after the split. Ms. Brewer says that she gave Dr. Blumenthal the money to buy into the practice she is part owner of and therefore should get a portion of the assets when the business is sold. The court held that because the couple was not married, Ms. Brewer does not get the benefit of a marital type property claim.

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What Johnny Depp’s Divorce Can Teach Us About Divorce SettlementsMany news and celebrity gossip outlets have covered the divorce of actor Johnny Depp and his former wife, actress Amber Heard. The divorce was especially messy because there were accusations of domestic violence from Heard. Because of the notoriety of the couple, details of their marriage and divorce have been made public with both sides giving sometimes contradictory messages. NBC News recently reported that the exes have reached a settlement and the divorce can go through.

Even though most of us do not have the fortune of Depp and Heard to divide up, or the paparazzi and other media reporting on the details of our relationship, there are lessons that all of us can learn from their divorce settlement. This article looks at what regular people can learn about divorce settlements from the divorce of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard.

It is Not Always About the Money

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Who Gets the Pets in an Illinois Divorce?Pets can often feel like family members. So, when there is a divorce, the family pets may be affected as well and couples may fight over whom the pet lives with after the divorce. This article looks at the laws and rules regarding pets during a divorce in Illinois.

What Status do Pets Have?

Though pets may feel in a lot of ways like children or other family members, the law generally looks at them as property. However, now that both divorce rates and pet ownership rates have risen, judges may be more likely to take into account the unique needs of pets. Essentially, judges are able to decide themselves whether they treat a pet more like a lamp or like a child.

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Posted on in Family Law

DuPage County family lawyer, cohabitation agreementMany couples decide to live together without getting married—one partner may have already divorced and does not want to remarry. When couples decide to cohabitate, there are several legal and financial decisions that the couple needs to decide.

Illinois marriage law gives spouses certain rights, and if a cohabiting couple wants similar rights, they must establish these rights through a cohabitation agreement. A cohabitation agreement can help you and your partner decide what happens during your relationship and if it ends.

Why Would We Need a Cohabitation Agreement?

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nonmarital propertyAside from child custody issues, property division can be one of the most contentious issues in a divorce. Illinois courts apply principles of equitable distribution when determining which party should end up with what property at the end of the divorce. The first step during the property division process is generally classifying property as marital or nonmarital. The issue of contribution, however, can complicate this process during the very first step.

What is It?

The issue of contribution in regards to property division involves the situation where one party adds value to a particular piece of property that the other spouse claims to be nonmarital.  Think of the following example:

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valuation of a businessProperty division is often a hotly contested issue of divorce. When a family business is involved, property division becomes even more complex and often much more contested. The parties must establish what the business is actually worth and ultimately, what to do with it.

Remember that under Illinois law, property acquired during the marriage (absent property acquired by gift, inheritance, or other special circumstances) is considered marital property subject to the equitable division of the courts. Any business started by either of the parties during the marriage would therefore qualify as marital property.

Valuation of the Business

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marital propertyDivorce affects everyone differently. Sadly, many of those going through divorce proceedings result to ugly and resentful behavior, primarily aimed towards the soon-to-be ex-spouse. If one spouse has access to the other’s personal property that they know the other cherishes, it is not uncommon for that spouse to threaten or actually sell off or give away those belongings in an attempt to upset the owner. Fortunately, there are ways to deal with this form of attack and ensure that your cherished possessions are protected throughout the divorce process, even while they may be located in the house where your soon-to-be-ex resides.

Protecting Possessions

Think of this real world example: The wife is residing in marital home during divorce. The wife finds her husband’s prized baseball memorabilia collection in the basement and decides to put everything in the collection on eBay to spite her soon-to-be-ex.

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effectiveness of a prenuptial agreementThese days, many people contemplating marriage consider entering into a prenuptial agreement. This legal document was traditionally used almost exclusively by the very wealthy in order to protect their assets in the event of divorce. However, it is increasing in popularity among people with average income today in order to set expectations and come to an agreement on certain terms in the event of divorce long before a marriage ever breaks down.

While such a conversation may be uncomfortable for a couple to have as they are planning to spend their lives together, the taboo that used to be associated with entering into a prenuptial agreement may have faded somewhat in recent years. This is good news for those who may be interested in entering into such an agreement, but one question remains: how effective is the document in successfully determining each spouse’s rights in the event of divorce and being held valid in the face of challenges?

Safety of a Prenup

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property settlement in divorceDevelopments and changes are constantly made in the legal world. Whether they be changes to relevant law, local procedure, or evaluating a constitutional challenge, rules and procedures can and do change over time in addition to new laws coming into practice. This is just one of the reasons hiring an experienced attorney to handle a legal matter can be so important. It is part of a lawyer’s professional responsibility to keep up to date on the latest changes and decisions in the law, and this is especially true for the area of law in which an attorney practices. One such change may have an effect on those hoping to pursue a divorce in Illinois.

Pending Court Decision

In Illinois, the coming months could see a court decision that has an effect on divorce law in the state. The Illinois Supreme Court has decided to issue an opinion on a case involving the issue of property settlement in a divorce. More specifically, the particular case deals with the treatment of Social Security benefits in a property settlement during a divorce.

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divorcing retirees

A divorcing couple’s finances are often one of the largest issues to be addressed by their lawyers and a judge in court. It is usually assumed that the spouse who benefits from a financial award has prevailed. However, a financial article recently suggested that other factors may be more important than money in a divorce, especially for retirees and those about to retire.

Lasting Effects

The repercussions of a decision in a divorce case last far beyond the end of the case, and can even be felt years down the road. Retirement plans made by a couple when they were married can be completely upheaved when they divorce, leaving two single people to make new plans for retirement. Items of property that were assigned to one side over another may be difficult to sell, or may be only of sentimental value. Other non-financial factors, such as family visitation, are also important, despite the lack of financial value.

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property division illinois divorceDuring a divorce proceeding, the parties may attempt to come to an agreement about the way in which they will divide their marital property between them. However, if they are unable to come to an agreement, or if their agreement is found to be unfair and unconscionable, it is up to the Illinois Courts to divide the marital estate between the divorcing parties in a way it sees fit. The court employs the law as a guideline in making a property determination within a divorce decree.

Equitable Distribution

Illinois state law follows the concept of equitable distribution in dividing marital property. This allows the court to make a property determination based on fairness and may not involve a perfect 50/50 split of marital property awarded to each party. The court will separate what is classified as marital property from what is considered separate property, and will equitably divide the marital property between divorcing spouses.

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pets in divorce, Illinois divorce lawyer, division of property, pet custody, Illinois divorce attorneyAccording to a recently published article, many divorcing couples, including those of the celebrity variety, are shifting the focus of their custody battles from child custody to  pet custody.

More Common Occurrence

While people generally may expect some type of custody battle to ensue between a divorcing couple regarding their children, they are probably less likely to anticipate the same type of disputes over family pets. However, in the legal world, disputes over the custody of pets are becoming more common in connection with divorce proceedings. Perhaps this is not so surprising when one considers that people in America are spending more money than ever before on their pets, many couples who would otherwise be having children are delaying parenthood, and more and more people are forming a bond with their pets that causes them to treat the pets more like members of the family. The law is just now trying to catch up to this cultural status change for families’ furry friends.

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Posted on in Divorce

divorce finances, gray divorce, divorce after 50, DuPage County divorce lawyer, divorce attorney in IllinoisAny couple that decides to divorce will have financial considerations to take into account, but issues surrounding divorce finances may affect those couples who divorce later in life the most. Ending a marriage after the age of 50 can have its own set of issues to address when it comes to preserving financial security. Often, couples of that age have investments, savings, accumulated assets, and retirement accounts to sort through.

Questions to Ask

Many older couples in this situation may need to take actions that they would not have had to if they remained married, such as going back to work or selling their home. However, there are steps these individuals can take to minimize the the financial effect their divorce will have. According to a financial advice article recently published, there are certain questions divorcees can ask before, during, and after a divorce proceeding to ensure financial security.
  • Where is the money? Those who are getting divorced need to identify and determine what marital property will be eligible for division. This generally includes money earned during the marriage and assets or items purchased with that money. Items that many may not realize are marital property include pension plans, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and tax returns.
  • What are the tax consequences? Any future tax bills must be factored into all settlement offers. An offer that seems fair on its face may not be so equitable when taxes are considered. Tax consequences must especially be considered when it comes to alimony payments, which are usually considered taxable income to the recipient and a tax deduction for the payor.
  • How can we split our retirement savings? Depending on the type of retirement account, transfers can either be straightforward or complex. IRAs can usually be handled by the divorcing spouses and addressed within the divorce decree, while splitting 401(k)s and pension plans can be more complicated. Early and well-informed action in this area can provide huge financial benefits.
  • Should I keep the house? While many people who divorce later in life feel strongly about keeping their home, it may not be a wise financial move, especially if they forgo other assets in the negotiating process to do so. Sometimes, it is more beneficial and financially wise to sell the home and split the profits.
  • Will I still be insured? In the past, many couples may have actually avoided divorce for fear of being denied individual health coverage. Now, new laws like the Affordable Care Act should help to relieve some of those concerns, as well as marketplace or COBRA coverage under an ex-spouse’s employer health plan.
  • How should my estate plan change? Couples divorcing later in life are advised to change all of their estate planning documents as soon as they make the decision to divorce, in order to best improve their chances of protecting their property and preserving their final wishes.
Divorce Attorney If you are considering divorce, the experienced attorneys at the Davi Law Group, LLC can help you. Please feel free to contact us today for a consultation. Our offices are located in Wheaton, Warrenville, and Chicago.
property splitOne of the major causes of contention during a divorce is the division of property.  While a judge can control the distribution, it does not make the fighting stop.  Arguing about property division can also add a lot of time to the litigation process and more legal costs.  Since both spouses are responsible for accumulating the property of a marriage, it can be more advantageous to divide this property together as well. The first step is to create a record of what is commonly owned.  It is important to include all assets or risk the penalty of omitting property.  Then it is important to assign a monetary value to each item either together or with the help of a third party.  For items like cars, houses, and other expensive and complex assets, it will be necessary to consult an expert to value them.  Next go through the list together to find if it is more logical for one spouse to continue owning the property.  If it seems necessary for equality, the assigned values of each asset can allow a tally for each spouse. If assigning a logical owner does not work, there are other ways to accomplish a split as a couple.
  • Sell the property in a garage sale and divide the cash equally to each spouse
  • Use sealed bids on each asset where the highest big wins that item.  But then the losing spouse is awarded an equalizing payment.
  • Use an alternating turn system where each spouse can choose regardless of value.  First pick is determined by a coin flip.  Any discrepancy in total value can be equalized later by taking debt.
  • Hold an auction where each spouse bids on each item, with bids increasing by five percent to insure that bids aren’t constantly a dollar more.
If spouses can draft a property division agreement, then the divorce court can uphold it in the final settlement.  Occasionally the judge will question if an agreement seems unfair.  But the direction of a divorce attorney can ensure that the agreement is in your best interest.  Contact an experienced divorce attorney in DuPage County to review your options for dividing marital property.
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