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Wheaton, IL divorce attorney for division of professional practicesOne of the most significant parts of the divorce process is the division of marital assets and debts. Some divorcing couples are able to reach an agreement about property distribution through attorney-assisted negotiations. Others reach property distribution settlements through an alternative dispute resolution method like mediation or collaborative law. When a property distribution agreement cannot be reached, the case may go to trial. Complex assets such as investments, small businesses, and professional practices are often especially difficult to quantify and divide during divorce. If you are a doctor, accountant, or other professional, and you own your own practice, you should understand how the decisions about this practice may impact your divorce.

Determining the Identity of a Professional Practice

If there is not a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that addresses ownership of a professional practice, the practice may be subject to division during divorce. Illinois courts divide marital property using a legal theory called “equitable distribution.” Only marital assets, or assets that were accumulated during the marriage, are subject to division. If you opened your professional practice during your marriage, the practice is almost certainly considered marital property.

Non-marital property, meaning property that was acquired before the marriage, is typically not subject to division. According to these general rules, a professional practice that an individual opened before tying the knot would be classified as non-marital property and therefore not subject to division during divorce. However, your practice may still be classified as marital property even if you owned the practice before you got married. For example, if your spouse made significant contributions to the practice, or if marital funds were used to finance the practice, it is possible that the practice will be considered part of the marital estate, regardless of when it was established.

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DuPage County divorce lawyer for division of pension benefitsIf you are like most working adults, you probably plan to enjoy your retirement to the fullest. This can make retirement funds a serious concern during divorce. Retirement accounts are typically treated the same as other types of marital assets. The portion of the retirement funds that were accumulated during the marriage are a marital asset subject to division, while the portion of the retirement funds that were accumulated before the marriage are not subject to division. However, accurately valuing retirement funds is not always as straightforward as it may seem. Pension plans are often especially difficult to accurately quantify and divide during divorce because the value of the pension relies on the future payout of the plan.  

Methods of Valuing Pensions

Three of the most common valuations methods used to determine the present value of a pension for the purpose of asset division during divorce include:

  • Life Expectancy Method: This approach is based on the pension holder’s life expectancy and the expected pension benefits he or she will receive.

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Wheaton asset division attorney for vehiclesIf you are like many people, your car, truck, or other vehicle is an essential component of your everyday life. You may have also spent a great deal of time, effort, and money making payments on your vehicle and keeping it maintained. It is therefore understandable to have concerns about who will retain ownership of your vehicle after divorce. You may question whether your spouse has the right to keep a car that is only titled in your name or worry that you will be forced to sell the vehicle and split the proceeds. Understanding the laws that govern asset distribution during divorce is key to reaching a fair divorce settlement.

Illinois Laws Regarding Ownership of Vehicles and Divorce

You and your spouse may be able to resolve property division concerns such as vehicle ownership through negotiations, mediation, or collaborative law. However, not every divorcing couple is able to reach a property distribution arrangement without court intervention. If your divorce case is litigated, a legal doctrine called “equitable distribution” will be used to determine which spouse gets what assets. Separate property, meaning property acquired by a party before getting married, is typically assigned to the original owner of the property. Property received in an inheritance is also usually classified as separate property. Assets that are acquired by either spouse during the marriage are considered marital property. If you purchased your vehicle after you got married, it is part of the marital estate and subject to division. This means that even if your vehicle is titled in your name alone, your spouse will have the same rights to the vehicle as you do.

Factors Considered by the Court During Division of Motor Vehicles

There are a few different ways that vehicles may be handed during the property division process. The vehicle may be sold and the profits split between the spouses, or one spouse may keep the car, while the other spouse keeps assets of similar value. When determining who will own a vehicle after divorce, Illinois courts may consider a number of different factors. The amount of money that each spouse contributed to the acquisition of the vehicle is one consideration. Each spouse’s income and employment circumstances as well as the spouses’ transportation needs are also considered. Parental responsibilities and parenting time arrangements may also influence who gets a vehicle, since a parent may need a larger vehicle to transport children to school or activities.

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DuPage County asset division attorney

Asset division during divorce involves much more than simply splitting a couple’s bank accounts. Complex assets, such as stocks and retirement funds, must also be accounted for. If you are considering getting a divorce in Illinois, you may have concerns about how your combined property will be divided between you and your spouse. You may also be unsure of which assets your spouse is entitled to and which assets are yours alone. Retirement account assets may be the result of years, if not decades, of hard work so they are often a significant portion of the marital estate. Understanding how these assets are divided during divorce is essential to ensure a fair settlement of the marital estate.

Classifying Retirement Assets as Marital or Separate

Illinois is an “equitable distribution” state, which means that property is distributed in an equitable, but not always even, manner during a divorce. Property division is based on many factors, including each spouse’s financial circumstances, their contributions to the acquisition of property, child custody arrangements, and much more. Only marital property is divided during an Illinois divorce. Marital property includes any assets that were acquired during the marriage. Nonmarital, or separate property, includes property acquired through inheritance or gift as well as property obtained by either spouse before the marriage. Retirement funds that a spouse accumulated before getting married are classified as nonmarital, and therefore, not subject to division. However, the portion of the retirement assets that were accumulated during the marriage is considered a marital asset and will need to be divided. It is essential to note that retirement plans will not be divided if a divorcing couple has signed a valid prenuptial agreement that excludes retirement assets.

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Wheaton divorce attorney for financial restraining ordersYou may not be surprised to learn that arguments about money are one of the main sources of conflict in many marriages. While some spouses are eventually able to reach an agreement about how to handle finances, others are not able to resolve their differences and end up filing for divorce. According to one 2017 survey, about 21 percent of divorced individuals named money as the cause of their divorce. Interestingly, the higher a person’s income, the more likely they were to report financial conflict as the main reason for ending the marriage. About 33 percent of individuals with an income of $100,000 or greater said that money-related disagreements led to the split. If you are considering divorce, and you are worried about the financial actions your spouse may take before the divorce is finalized, you may want to protect yourself by obtaining a financial restraining order.

Freezing Marital Assets During Divorce

Some divorcing spouses may make extravagant purchases, use marital assets recklessly, intentionally damage marital property, or make other financial decisions that harm the other spouse. In order to protect divorcing spouses’ finances, Illinois law allows spouses to obtain a temporary court order that guards marital assets against waste or misuse until they can be equitably divided during divorce. According to Illinois law, a financial restraining order can prevent a spouse from “transferring, encumbering, concealing, or otherwise disposing of any property except in the usual course of business or for the necessities of life.”

This type of restraining order may prohibit spouses from selling marital property, closing bank accounts, or changing the beneficiaries on accounts. Depending on the situation, the restraining order may also restrict spouses’ access to certain marital accounts. The provisions contained in a financial restraining order apply to both spouses, so it is important to note that you will also be subject to restrictions and rules if you choose to obtain a financial restraining order.

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