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Wheaton divorce attorneysAlthough the 2017 American Community Survey estimates the number of divorces is on the decline in Illinois, women still need to be aware of how to protect themselves financially, should divorce become inevitable.  There are two common financial mistakes shared by a number of divorcing women - not only in Illinois but throughout the United States.  By taking a proactive role and getting ahead of these common financial mistakes, women can save themselves a lot of frustration and be better prepared for their future.  

1. Not Knowing Your Marital Assets and Debts

In Illinois, there is a presumption that property acquired during the marriage is marital property, therefore it should be divided equitably. However, many women are unaware of the extent of their marital property, which may cause them to leave money on the table. Consider that marital property can include a variety of assets - from retirement accounts and offshore bank accounts to car collections and earnings on investments. It is important to immediately identify and determine the values of these items since knowing these values will allow for a more equitable share in the assets of the marriage.  

While it is crucial to know the marital assets, it is just as important to be fully informed of the marital debts. Where there is often a lack of knowledge of assets, the same is often true of marital debts. Debts can include car loans, home mortgages, credit cards, lines of credit, or any other debt. These will be factored into a property settlement along with any assets. If unaware and unprepared for them, you could be financially crippled in your new life, long before you even begin. Thankfully, with guidance and skilled legal counsel, you may be able to overcome such financial hurdles in your Illinois divorce. 

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DuPage County family lawyers, spouse wastes assetsCouples do not just wake up one day and decide to divorce. There are indications that spouses are growing apart and that dissolution of the marriage is inevitable, which usually develop in the weeks and months before filing divorce paperwork. During this period of irretrievable breakdown, one spouse may be tempted to destroy or waste marital assets—often out of spite and with the view that destruction of property is preferable to letting the other person have it.

Dissipation of marital assets is a serious matter, so you should discuss your situation with an Illinois divorce lawyer right away if you suspect wrongdoing.

Legal Definition of Dissipation of Assets

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DuPage County divorce attorneys, restraining ordersWhen you hear the term “restraining order,” you often think of a domestic situation where a victim goes to court to prevent an abuser from engaging in acts of violence. However, Illinois law also provides for restraining orders that relate to property in a divorce, which are used to safeguard assets during the proceedings. Without a valid order in place, one spouse may be tempted to empty bank accounts, transfer real estate, sell off certain personal items, or take other actions to impact an equitable distribution of property. An Illinois attorney can tell you more about restraining orders as they relate to property in a divorce, but some general information should be helpful.

Petition for Temporary Restraining Order

Either spouse may file a petition with the court to restrict the other from disposing of property, except where it is required in the usual course of business such as cost of living expenses. Prohibition on transferring, selling, concealing, and encumbering assets are included in this type of order. The petition must be supported by an affidavit, which is a sworn statement attesting to the facts contained in the document.

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dissipation of assets, DuPage County divorce attorneyIf you are considering divorce, or are already beginning the process, and your spouse has been spending your shared funds imprudently, you may be able to get some of the money back.

Under Illinois’ marriage dissolution law, when one spouse uses marital funds for his or her own benefit, and not for the benefit of the marriage, it is called dissipation. For these purposes, marital assets include income from employment or investments, and funds in shared accounts such as IRAs, savings accounts, CDs, and 401(k)s that built up throughout the marriage. Senseless spending of such funds is only classified as dissipation if it occurs when the marriage is undergoing an irretrievable breakdown.

Often, the date when this breakdown began is very hard to pinpoint, and is a source of bitter disagreement in itself, especially since it can impact how any funds spent during this time will be viewed by a court. Sometimes, the date of separation is used; more rarely, it could be the date when one party filed for a divorce. However, courts often find that the breakdown began well before either of these dates.

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