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Wheaton divorce lawyersThe marital home is often one of the more valuable assets that couples must divide during a divorce. In addition, there may be other types of real estate involved (rental properties, vacation homes, commercial buildings, etc.). Learn how most types of real estate are handled and divided in divorce by reading the following sections. You will also discover how a seasoned lawyer can help to protect your interests along the way. 

Valuation of the Property 

Properties must be valued before they can be divided. There are three basic methods that parties may use: tax assessed value, market analysis, and appraisal. Know and understand the potential drawbacks and benefits of using each method and choose the one that best fits your situation. Also, since arguments and disagreements are common, consider hiring your own appraiser if you and your spouse settle on the third and final option. It is also important to remember that any real estate tied to a business may have a more complex valuation process. Discuss the matter with your attorney to learn more. 

Determine the Amount of Equity 

The equity of a property is the portion that you and your spouse “own.” It is configured by subtracting any liens or mortgages held against the property. If taking out an equity loan, this would be the amount that a lender would use. If selling the home, it is the amount that you and your spouse can expect to see once the sale is final (provided the home sells at value). This aspect of dividing real estate can make or break your settlement - especially if one party intends to retain the property once the divorce has been finalized. 


Wheaton divorce lawyersBills and other financial obligations do not end just because you are filing for a divorce. In fact, money management is usually more difficult while trying to navigate the divorce process because there are more bills and less money to go around.

Thankfully, there are measures that one can take to improve their financial situation, even while pursuing a divorce. Learn more in the following sections, and discover how our seasoned divorce lawyers can assist. 

Track Your Finances and Develop a New Budget

The first step to improving your financial situation is to understand your finances. Start by tracking how and where you spend your money, then determine if any of your expenses can be eliminated or temporarily suspended. Doing this can give you more in the way of liquid assets. It also allows you to develop a new budget so that you can start saving for your new future. 


DuPage County divorce lawyersDuring the Great Recession, many savvy investors jumped into the housing market - and a decent percentage of them hit it big. Their success, paired with popular house-flipping television shows, caused many “average” people, who had no real investment experience, to jump into the market as well. What happens to these investors when a divorce occurs? Learn more about how real estate is divided in an Illinois divorce, and discover what our seasoned Wheaton divorce lawyers can do to assist you with the process. 

Dividing Real Estate with a Prenuptial Agreement 

Ideally, investors would have a prenuptial agreement in place before a divorce, as this is the easiest way to ensure a straightforward division of the marital assets. Granted, there are situations in which a prenuptial agreement may not be honored (i.e. a prenuptial agreement signed under duress), but these are fairly rare. Just note that investors are highly encouraged to seek legal assistance when drafting their prenuptial agreements, as this decreases the risk of legal issues in the division of the marital estate. 

Dividing Real Estate Without a Prenuptial Agreement 

If the couple does not have a prenuptial agreement in place, the entire marital estate must be valued and equitably divided. Unfortunately, in high asset situations (which most divorces involving real estate are), the asset division process can be extremely complex. As such, it is highly critical that both parties have a seasoned attorney on their side, protecting their interests.


Illinois divorce lawyersDivorce can be financially devastating for women - especially if they are over the age of 50. Some say women can avoid such a catastrophe by fighting for their home during their divorce. Unfortunately, this may not be sound advice for everyone. Learn how you can determine which path might be most appropriate for your case and discover how a seasoned divorce lawyer can help protect your financial future during an Illinois divorce. 

Fighting for the Family Home - Understanding the Logic 

Women are often attached to the family home, and some say it is the key to protecting their financial future during a divorce. A study from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College only seems to confirm that this is the best route for women. In its survey of formerly married women, it found that, in terms of assets, those who kept the house were “better off” than single, never-married women. Yet, it is important to note that the study did not examine the overall wealth of these women. Instead, it just looked at the assets they were holding at the time of the survey. 


Wheaton divorce lawyersDuring an Illinois divorce, a couple’s marital estate is totaled and then divided according to the law. In that marital estate is not just a couple’s assets and income; debt is factored in as well. Unfortunately, this can be especially problematic in a divorce - and not just because it can affect the amount of one’s settlement. 

Couples might have different values when it comes to money and debt, and one party may have contributed more to the couple’s debt load than the other. Alternatively, one party may have less of an ability to repay the debts because they have a fixed or limited earning ability. Whatever the situation, parties are encouraged to educate themselves on dealing with debt in a divorce, and that includes learning how to go about deciding who should pay for the couple’s credit card debts. 

Making the Decision Through Negotiation 


Wheaton divorce lawyersAlthough some couples walk into a divorce knowing exactly what they want to do with the family home, others struggle with the decision for a while. Debt, the inevitable decrease in income that comes with divorce, concerns over maintenance and upkeep, and other important considerations may complicate discussions and negotiations even further. If this sounds like your current situation, the following information may help you with your decision.

Do You Want It, and Why?

Before you make any decisions regarding your home, it is important that you take the time to consider if you want it – and if so, then why? Is it so that your children can stay in the same school district? Are you unable to move to another home because of credit issues or a lack of personal income? Or is it possible that you know it is a poor decision to keep the home but have such a strong sentimental attachment, you cannot figure out how to let it go? The reason can help you decide if selling it or keeping it may be the better option.


Illinois divorce lawyersThe division of assets in a divorce can be a contentious and complicated process. However, it carries out in a somewhat predictable manner. The value of each item is determined, the total value of the marital estate is determined, and then each party receives an equitable (fair) distribution of the estate. What happens, though, when the two sides do not see eye to eye on the term “fair?” Further, how are large value assets handled in an Illinois divorce? The following answers these questions, and provides some advice on how you can ensure your rights and best interests are protected throughout the entire process.

What Constitutes “Fair” in an Illinois Divorce?

The term “fair” is a subjective one, and it can quickly spark heated disagreements over who has contributed what to the marriage. However, the courts do have ways to determine what might be fair. For example, if a spouse does not work but has given up their education or career to advance their spouse’s education or career, they might be entitled to alimony or a larger portion of the marital estate than they might have otherwise received. Other factors that may be considered include the:


DuPage County divorce lawyers, Illinois divorce lawThe parties in a divorce are free to enter an agreement regarding a distribution of property, but the court will make a determination where they cannot reach an accord. In doing so, the assets are broken into categories of marital and non-marital. Generally, only marital property is subject to equitable distribution and non-marital property is retained by the respective spouses.

One unique type of asset that may become an issue in making a property distribution pursuant to divorce is an interest in a business. When ownership is determined to be a marital asset, valuation methods and business goodwill become critical. Discuss your situation with an experienced Illinois property division attorney to ensure protection of your interest.

Valuation Methods


DuPage County divorce attorneys, non-marital property, marital homeAbsent an agreement of divorcing parties regarding their assets, a court will make an equitable distribution of property to each spouse as part of the dissolution of marriage process in Illinois. However, before dividing up the items, it is necessary to establish which assets are considered “marital” and “non-martial” under state law. While the distinction may be clear-cut for certain assets, the line between the two types of property may not be as obvious for others. There are rules that establish the difference between marital and non-marital property in Illinois, so discuss your specific circumstances with an attorney that has experience in property divisions in Illinois divorces.

Assets Included in Marital Property

The general rule is that all property acquired by spouses during their marriage is considered marital property. Hence, the property will be equitably divided throughout the divorce process. A court does not look to actual title and name associated with an asset in determining whether it qualifies as marital property. Typically, any item you come by during marriage will be included in marital property, including:


Posted on in Family Law

DuPage County property division attorneys, pet custodyThose of us with pets often feel like they are part of the family. Therefore, in the event of a divorce, deciding who gets to keep the pet can be a huge conflict. There are several different factors that affect a court’s decision regarding pet custody. Generally, the rule is that a pet is personal property like any other property. However, sometimes the court is willing to see a pet as unique. 

Pet Custody Agreement 

Couples can create an agreement that lays out what would happen to a pet in the event of a divorce. The court does not necessarily have to uphold the agreement, but it may help the couple come to their own agreement about the pet. Like most other parts of property division during a divorce, a court will almost always approve an arrangement to which the couple agrees. 


DuPage County family law attorneys, postnuptial agreementsMost people have heard of prenuptial agreements—legal documents that a couple draws up before the wedding regarding division of assets in the case of divorce. What many people do not know is that there are also postnuptial agreements. These are similar to prenuptial agreements except they are drafted and signed after the couple is married. Postnuptial agreements are governed by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.

Why Would I Want a Postnuptial Agreement?

Couples have several different reasons for deciding to enter into a postnup. Some couples decide to draft a post-nup when they are going through a rocky time in their marriage and want to figure out property division beforehand to get a sense of what divorce might look like. Other couples may agree that a postnup is the way to go if one of them wants to try a new business venture. Finally, some may regret not signing a prenup and therefore choose a postnup as plan B. Whatever the reason, it is important to make sure you go into the postnup with your eyes open so that you understand the legal consequences of signing one.


Posted on in Divorce

DuPage County property division attorneys, division of debt, divorceWhen a couple makes the decision to divorce, there are always questions about how to divide property and assets. Figuring out how to properly divide assets is important, but it is just as important for a couple to figure out how the couple's debt will be divided.

Dividing debt is similar to dividing assets, however, there are some additional questions that a couple will want to answer before deciding how to divide their debt.    

Will the Debt Be Divided Equally?


Posted on in Property Division

DuPage County divorce attorney, hiding assetsOftentimes, one spouse is responsible for managing household finances, while the other spouse may not have a clear idea about the family’s income and expenses. Handling finances this way is fine when both spouses plan to stay in the marriage. However, if the marriage begins to deteriorate and divorce becomes a possibility, then the spouse handling family finances may try to take advantage of this situation by hiding assets. 

Most divorces will involve the division of property, including marital financial assets. Spouses may hide assets in an attempt to avoid losing all or part of these assets in the divorce settlement. They may plan to then use these hidden assets for their own gain later on. Hiding financial assets is unethical and illegal.

Stay Involved in Household Finances


DuPage County family law attorney, divorce property divisionWhen you and your spouse are going through a divorce, you already anticipate the division of property and assets. However, most people fail to realize that debts are also a major part of this process. Most divorcing couples focus on who gets the house, car, or big screen television; still, they must also consider who handles the mortgage, car payments, and credit card debt. These debts might have been manageable when both spouses were paying the debt down, but it might be much more difficult to pay those debts on one's own.

Fortunately, when it comes to debts, Illinois law has certain provisions that deal with marital and non-marital debts. Under Illinois law, “Neither husband or wife shall be liable for the debts or liabilities of the other incurred before marriage, and they shall not be liable for the separate debts of each other, nor shall the wages, earnings or property of either, nor the rent or income of such property, be liable for the separate debts of the other.” Therefore, neither spouse will be liable for the debts of the other spouse. Creditors will not be able to go after assets you own when they are going after your spouse.

Exceptions to the Illinois Marital and Non-Marital Debt Provision


DuPage County family law attorney, property division, property distributionOne of the biggest issues that arises during the divorce process is the distribution of property to each spouse. Who gets the house, cars, furniture, personal effects, and more must all be agreed upon by the spouses or the court in a divorce. Illinois decides issues of property through a process known as “equitable distribution.” 

Equitable Distribution

The purpose behind an equitable distribution of property is to divide the property accumulated as a married couple in a fair and equitable way. It is important to note that fair does not always mean equal; therefore, one spouse may receive more in the distribution of property if a judge deems it to be fair.

How Will Gifts be Treated during a Divorce?

During a dissolution of marriage in Illinois, a court will approve a settlement agreement that provides for an equitable distribution of assets. Usually, this means that any marital assets or property owned jointly by the spouses must be divided equally. Non-marital assets, or property that belongs solely to one spouse, will remain the property of that spouse and generally will not affect the way the marital property is divided. Exceptions can be made when an equal division of marital assets would be extremely unfair to one spouse, for example, when the other spouse has a disproportionately larger amount of assets.

Marital vs. Non-Marital

When classifying assets as either marital or non-marital, one of the clearer rules under Illinois law is that gifts to one spouse are presumed to be non-marital property. This presumption provides only a default starting position, however. It can be rebutted or shown to be otherwise with evidence and testimony in court.


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:


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.


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


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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