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Wheaton, IL 60189
Wheaton Family Law Attorney
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DuPage County asset division lawyers 401k IRA pensionProperty division is often one of the most complex aspects of divorce. The division of retirement plans can be especially complicated. If you are getting divorced, you may have concerns about how your or your spouse’s IRA, 401(k), pension plan, or other retirement benefits will be divided. In Illinois, marital property is divided according to “equitable distribution.” Non-marital property, or property which was obtained by either spouse before the marriage, is not eligible for division. The specifics of how your retirement plan will be handled during divorce will vary depending on your unique circumstances, so it is important to contact an attorney and discuss your legal options.

Is My Retirement Plan Part of the Marital Estate?

Property accumulated during a marriage is typically considered part of the marital estate. Only certain gifts and inheritances are exempt from this rule. So, if you earned retirement funds through work that occurred during the marriage, these funds are marital property. If you started contributing to a retirement plan before you got married and then continued to make contributions during the marriage, part of the retirement plan may be considered marital property, and part of the plan may be considered non-marital property. However, retirement plans excluded from the marital estate through a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement are not eligible for division. 

There are several options available for dividing these funds during the property distribution process. One option is for the retirement funds and benefits to be divided between the spouses through a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). Another option is for one spouse to keep the retirement funds while the other spouse receives marital assets which are of approximately equal value.

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Wheaton divorce litigation attorneyJust as no two marriages are the same, no two divorces are the same. There are several different paths that a person getting divorced in Illinois may choose to pursue. Some couples are able to work out the terms of their divorce on their own. Others require help from a qualified mediator to come to an agreement about property division, child custody, and other divorce-related issues. Collaborative law offers yet another option for couples ending their marriage. In some situations, especially those involving spouses with a high net worth, a divorce case may require courtroom litigation. Here are some situations in which a divorce may need to be resolved in court:

Cases Involving Financial Fraud

In order for a divorcing couple to reach a fair settlement, the spouses must fully disclose their incomes, assets, and debts. If a spouse is unwilling to be honest and transparent about his or her financial circumstances, effective mediation or a successful collaborative divorce may not be possible. Some spouses will attempt to hide assets or income in hopes that these assets will not be divided during divorce. A person may misreport the income they earn in hopes of influencing decisions about spousal maintenance or child support. If you have reason to believe that your spouse is hiding assets or revenue streams, speak with a divorce attorney right away.

Couples With a History of Abuse or Domestic Violence

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that approximately 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men have been the victim of intimate partner violence. If your spouse has physically abused you, used threats to manipulate your actions, or made you feel unsafe, mediation is typically not recommended. You may be coerced or intimidated into accepting a divorce settlement that is not fair. Many victims of domestic violence find that litigation is the only way to get the divorce settlement they truly deserve.

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DuPage County dissipation of assets lawyerBeing cheated on by your spouse can be heartbreaking. Not only do you have to deal with the sadness and anger caused by the betrayal, but you may also have to deal with the financial consequences of your spouse’s infidelity. If you are getting divorced, and your spouse has been unfaithful to you, you should know about a legal concept called “dissipation of assets.” Through a dissipation claim, you may be able to receive compensation for marital assets that were spent on an affair during the end of your marriage.

Defining Dissipation in Illinois

The Illinois Supreme Court has identified dissipation as the use of marital assets for a purpose unrelated to the marriage and that only benefits one spouse. Assets may be dissipated, or wasted, through an affair, gambling addiction, substance abuse problem, intentional destruction of property, or other means. However, in order to be considered dissipation, the wasting of assets must have taken place during or after the “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage. A marriage is generally considered to be undergoing a breakdown if the spouses are not living together, spending free time together, having marital relations, or have decided to divorce.

Dissipation Claims Related to an Extramarital Affair

There are several ways that a spouse can dissipate marital assets through infidelity. Perhaps your spouse spent a substantial amount of money on expensive jewelry or other gifts for his or her lover. Your spouse may also have dissipated assets if he or she spent marital funds on airfare, hotels, and other travel expenses related to visiting the other person or taking a vacation with him or her. You spouse may have even given away marital property to his or her paramour.

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Wheaton divorce attorney parenting plan co-parentingMany people use the start of a calendar year to make New Year’s resolutions. If you are a divorcing or unmarried parent, you may wish to make a resolution related to more effective co-parenting. Raising a child with someone who you used to date or be married to can be extremely complicated. It can be nearly impossible to keep personal feelings toward the other parent separate from parenting issues. However, studies show that children can be deeply affected by parental arguments and tension. Finding a way to work with your child’s other parent instead of against him or her will benefit both you and your child in a multitude of ways.

Keep Conversations Brief, Respectful, and Child-Focused

One of the best ways to avoid adding additional stress or complications to the already difficult process of co-parenting with an ex is to communicate effectively and respectfully. Keep conversations focused on your child and resist the temptation to discuss issues related to why your relationship ended or other personal matters. Do not criticize the other parent or use profanity. Even if the other parent chooses to disrespect you, do your best to take the high road and remain calm. Many parents find that communicating through email or text messages helps reduce the risk of arguments, but you should find the communication strategy that works best for your unique situation.

Stick to Your Parenting Plan

Divorcing parents in Illinois must submit a parenting plan to the court. This plan details how parental responsibilities will be shared, and it contains a schedule for parenting time, among many other important provisions. This parenting plan is not simply a formality. It is essential that you and your former partner follow the directions contained in your parenting plan. Do not make a habit of deviating from the parenting plan, because this will only increase the likelihood of miscommunication and confusion. If your child’s other parent refuses to obey the directions contained in your parenting agreement, contact a family law attorney to learn about your legal options for enforcement.

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DuPage County family law attorney for adoptionsAdoption gives a child without a family the wonderful gift of loving parents. Adopting a child can be one of the most rewarding decisions a person can make. There are many different avenues that a potential parent can take to adopt a child. If you are considering adoption, read on to learn about the four main types of adoption available in Illinois and the advantages and disadvantages of each. Often, the adoption process can be very complicated, so it is important to work with a family law attorney who has experience helping families make their dream of adopting a child a reality.

International Adoption

When a family adopts a child who was born outside of the United States, this is called an international adoption. Internationally adopted children are typically orphans who do not have a family to call their own. This means that you would be giving a child in desperate need of parents the love and attention all children deserve. It also means that the birth mother cannot change her mind, which can happen with other types of adoption. The international adoption process can be expensive and time-consuming. There may also be difficulties caused by the distance and possible language barrier associated with international adoption.

Agency Adoptions

An agency adoption is enabled by a public or private adoption organization. Some parents adopt a child after providing him or her with a home as a foster parent. This can be a great way for a family and child to get to know each other before adoption. In Illinois, the adoption of foster children is managed by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). It is important to note that some individuals pursuing adoption through a private adoption agency have been the victims of corruption and fraud. If you are planning to adopt a child through a private agency, retain a lawyer to ensure that no unlawful acts are taking place.

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