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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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Posted on in Divorce

pet custodyEveryone knows custody can be one of the most contentious issues in a divorce. What may shock people is those custody disputes don’t always only involve children – human children, that is. Increasingly, couples are feuding over pet custody during their divorce proceedings.

According to a recent survey of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 27 percent of those attorneys who responded said they noticed an increase in the number of clients fighting for custody of a pet during the last five years. Of those disputes, they also noted an overwhelming 88 percent of those animals caught in the middle of the custody fight were dogs.

Illinois Laws Used When Pets are an Issue

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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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property division, divorce, Illinois divorce lawyer, marital property, nonmarital propertyOf the many concerns that present themselves throughout a divorce case, one is that many parties may have could be about dividing their marital property and other assets. While it may not be a top priority of some couples who plan to divorce, it may be of paramount concern to others, depending on the couple’s circumstances and financial situation. A judge hearing a divorce case has discretion in this area, but the law of the state of Illinois does provide important guidance for consideration on the issue.

Illinois Law 

While many may believe that property is equally divided among the parties in the event of divorce, this is simply not always the case. According to Illinois law, the state follows the doctrine of equitable distribution, which means that marital property is divided in a fair way, but that does not necessarily equate to half to one spouse and half to the other. The specific term is “just proportions,” which refers to a number of factors that a court must consider in making its determination about property division among divorcing spouses. Factors the court may consider include, but are not limited to, the following:

 Each spouse’s contribution to marital property;
  •  Each spouse’s contribution to homemaking;
  •  Any waste of property;
  •  The length of the marriage;
  • Any debt obligations;
  • The relative age and health of each spouse;
  •  Custody terms set for any minor children; and
  • Tax consequences.

It is important to note that the court’s determination is not limited to just one of these factors, such as which spouse made more money during the marriage. A spouse’s non-financial contributions to the marriage will also be equally considered by a judge, especially in the case where the marriage lasted a number of years and one spouse was responsible for maintaining the home and raising children.

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