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Wheaton, IL dissipation of assets lawyerIllinois no longer allows divorcing spouses to claim fault-based grounds for divorce. However, this does not mean that a spouse’s behavior cannot influence a divorce settlement. Spouses who waste or destroy property during the breakdown of their marriage or during divorce proceedings may be guilty of dissipating assets. If you are planning to get divorced or have already started the divorce process, and you believe your spouse has grossly misused marital funds or property, you may have a valid dissipation claim.

Defining Dissipation of Assets

Illinois law defines dissipation as the use of marital property for a purpose not related to the marriage when the marriage is undergoing an irreparable breakdown. Examples of dissipation of assets include situations such as:

  • After a wife files for divorce, a husband decides to “get even” with her. He intentionally destroys thousands of dollars of their furniture and other household property so that the wife cannot be assigned these items during property division.

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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 asset division attorneyWhen you and your spouse got married, you might have moved into a house that one of you owned already, or you might have found a new home together. Since your wedding, it is also possible that you and your spouse have upgraded and bought a house big enough to accommodate your growing family. If you find yourself facing the prospect of a divorce, however, how and when you and your spouse bought your current home could affect its status as a marital asset.

Equitable Distribution in Illinois

According to Illinois law, a divorcing couple’s marital property is to be divided equitably, or fairly, between the spouses. The law also defines marital property as assets or debts acquired by either party during the marriage, with limited exceptions for inheritances or gifts to one spouse. Property that was acquired before the marriage is considered to be non-marital and is not subject to being divided during the divorce. This includes the home where you and your spouse were living when the marriage ended.

How and When the Home Was Purchased

If the home in question was purchased and fully paid off by either you or your spouse before you got married, it is not likely to be considered a marital asset by the court. It would more likely be considered a non-marital asset and awarded to the spouse who bought it originally. However, if you bought the home together at any point during your marriage, the home would probably be considered marital property.

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Wheaton prenup attorney

Although television and movies have sometimes presented prenuptial agreements (also known as prenups) in a negative way, there are a multitude of benefits to drafting a premarital or prenuptial agreement. Not only does a prenup protect the financial interests of both spouses, it also helps facilitate open communication about financial expectations before the couple gets married. However, it is important to remember that prenuptial agreements must meet certain criteria in order to be legally enforceable. There are several problems which can invalidate a prenuptial agreement.

Premarital Agreements Must Be Written and Agreed to By Both Parties

Studies show that disagreements about money are among the most common reasons couples get divorced. Having an open and honest conversation about financial expectations before walking down the aisle is one way to avoid financial disagreements during the marriage. In a prenuptial agreement, couples will decide how they will handle issues such as property division and spousal maintenance (alimony) if they end up divorcing. The agreement can also contain information about how debts will be distributed in the event of divorce. The prenuptial agreement cannot be a verbal contract; it must be written and signed by both spouses.

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Lombard divorce lawyer for division of propertyMarriage is like a knot, and that knot can be very tricky to untie if you are getting a divorce. One of the most difficult parts of divorce can be the division of property. Many states use “community property” laws, which say that any assets obtained during a marriage are subject to equal division in the case of a divorce. However, Illinois is not a community property state, and instead, it uses a principle known as “equitable distribution.” This states that assets will be fairly and equitably divided between spouses in just proportions rather than being split 50/50.

Types of Property

There are two types of property that a married couple may own: marital property and separate property. Marital property is defined as all assets and debts obtained by either spouse during a marriage. This includes not just tangible property but also intangible assets. Examples may include vehicles, furniture, clothing, jewelry, bank accounts, trusts, real estate property, and business interests--as long as they were obtained during the marriage. Liabilities such as credit card debts or home and auto loans are also considered marital property. 

Separate property includes any assets that were obtained by one spouse before or after the marriage, as well as any inheritances given solely to one spouse. Marital property will be divided between spouses, but separate property will continue to be owned by the spouse that acquired it.

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