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1776 S. Naperville Road, Building B, Suite 202,
Wheaton, IL 60189
The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C.

wheaton divorce lawyerDividing marital property is often one of the most difficult issues an Illinois couple must resolve in their divorce. Deciding what to do with shared assets is not easy, especially when asset division involves complex or valuable real estate. Real estate can be of great sentimental value to one or both spouses and when a couple fails to successfully negotiate an asset division settlement themselves and a court intervenes, the results may be deeply dissatisfying. If you are getting divorced and wondering whether a judge has the authority to divide real estate or require property to be sold in order to satisfy a court-ordered divorce decree, read on. 

Marital vs. Personal Property

Illinois is an equitable division state, meaning that marital property is divided fairly rather than 50/50. Determining what is marital property is usually fairly straightforward. Assets acquired during a marriage are marital property; anything owned by one spouse before the marriage remains personal property. Gifts and inheritances usually remain the personal property of the spouse to whom they were given. While for most couples separating personal and marital real estate is not an issue, the process can be complicated by actions like asset commingling or adding a spouse’s name to a real estate title. 

Can a Judge Force Me to Sell My Property? 

Ideally, divorcing couples will create a property division agreement that satisfies both parties. However, spouses may have to divide the value of jointly owned property in such a way that requires the property to be sold; sometimes there is no other way to make up a spouse’s value in other marital assets. Other times, judges will award an entire piece of real estate to just one spouse and make up for its value by giving the other spouse marital assets of similar value. Judges do have the authority to require spouses to sell real estate, but a good attorney can often help a divorcing couple create a property division agreement that helps them avoid unsatisfactory decisions by a judge. 

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wheaton divorce lawyerEngagement rings are often one of the first major purchases someone makes as part of a committed relationship, and, after a marriage, a wedding ring may remain among the most valuable pieces of property in a home for many years to come. In addition to their sentimental value, people can spend many thousands of dollars on engagement rings and wedding bands; there may understandably be some concern about what happens to wedding and engagement rings in an Illinois divorce when marital property must be divided. 

Is an Engagement Ring Marital Property? 

The first step in dividing a couple’s property during divorce is determining what property is actually subject to division. Couples were individuals with their own belongings before they were married, and although most property acquired during a marriage is considered marital property, certain categories are exempt. These factors make dividing marital property more difficult than it may seem at first glance. 

One of the most important categories of personal property that is not divisible in a divorce is that of gifts - objects either spouse received as a gift intended exclusively for that spouse generally remain the personal property of the spouse to which the gift was given. Engagement rings are generally considered a gift in exchange for the promise of marriage. While a broken-off engagement can require an engagement ring to be given back, once a couple is married, the promise of marriage is fulfilled; the engagement ring becomes, and remains, the personal property of the spouse who wears it. For these reasons, in a divorce both engagement rings and wedding rings are considered personal property of the spouse to whom they were given and are not subject to division. 

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wheaton child custody lawyerAs Illinois law has changed to allow families more flexibility in how they manage parenting time and parental responsibilities (formerly known as custody and visitation, respectively), certain issues remain difficult to negotiate because of their unchangeable nature. One such issue is dealing with parenting schedules for an infant who is still breastfeeding. 

While courts encourage both parents to play an active role in a child’s life whenever possible, the schedule demands of a breastfeeding infant can make it difficult for parents to divide parenting time in a way that satisfies both parents and meets the infant’s needs. If you are getting divorced, separating, or are trying to establish paternity and create a parenting schedule for a breastfeeding infant, an Illinois parenting time attorney may be able to help you. 

Balancing Fairness and a Child’s Needs

Illinois law has more or less moved away from the assumption that the mother is always the caregiver. Women are increasingly the primary breadwinner in Illinois families and fathers are often more involved in full- or part-time caregiving positions. Yet no matter how involved a father is in his child’s life, the task of breastfeeding is an important one for an infant’s health and development and can only be undertaken by a mother. 

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wheaton divorce lawyerWhen couples who are in love get married, very few of them anticipate how complicated dividing their marital property could eventually be when they get divorced many years later. Valuing, selling, and dividing complex assets in a divorce is rarely easy or convenient, especially when the assets have a high net worth, but divorces involving complex assets are finalized in Illinois every day with the help of experienced marital property attorneys. If you are considering divorce and wondering what will happen to complex assets owned by you and your spouse, read on. 

What is Considered a Complex Asset? 

Many couples who have a high net worth or who have been married for many years share complex assets. This is because investment portfolios, retirement accounts, small businesses, and other assets that are made up of smaller components are considered complex assets and are fairly common in long-lived marriages. In contrast, an asset like a savings account - even if it is worth a significant amount of money - would not be considered a complex asset because it could be readily valued and liquidated. 

How Are Complex Assets Valued? 

As with any other assets, complex assets that have been acquired during a marriage are generally considered marital property and must be divided in a divorce. This can present difficulties not only because valuing complex assets can take time and help from financial professionals, but because complex assets may change in value quickly or have a different value depending on the valuation method used. 

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shutterstock_546545512.jpgFamilies in Illinois are diverse and many different arrangements allow parents to raise their children with love and strength. Although many women have no choice but to be single parents, research consistently suggests that children are more likely to succeed by every measurable outcome when they have a father who is emotionally present and financially involved in ensuring his child has what he or she needs. 

Unfortunately, fathers are not always eager to take financial or emotional responsibility for their children and may be unwilling to voluntarily acknowledge paternity. When this happens, or when there is a question as to whether a man is indeed the biological father of a child, Illinois courts can take measures like DNA paternity testing to ensure that a man is held responsible for the fathering of a child and for contributing to that child’s financial needs. 

How Do DNA Tests Work? 

The most common DNA paternity tests take a simple cheek swab from the mother, the child, and the alleged father, and send these samples to a laboratory for comparison. The lab will compare a particular part of the child’s DNA to the father and mother’s DNA and can estimate parentage with almost 100 percent accuracy. If either parent has questions or doubts about the reliability of a DNA test, they can submit their samples to an independent laboratory at their own expense. DNA tests can also be taken when a mother is pregnant using blood samples taken at a hospital.

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