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Wheaton asset division lawyer business valuationDuring a divorce, one of the biggest issues you must deal with is the asset division process. Everything that you and your spouse own together must be allocated between the two of you during this process. Illinois is an equitable division state, which means marital property should be divided in a fair manner. However, fair does not always mean equal. Most assets are easy to define and allocate, but what happens when you or your spouse own a business or a private practice that you must address?

Options For Your Business

Before you make any decisions, you should get a fair valuation of your business. It is important to know exactly what your business is worth before you start figuring out how to deal with it. There are various methods you can use to determine the value of your business. Your divorce attorney should be able to recommend an appraiser who can offer advice about your valuation.

When it comes to your business and your divorce, there are three main options that you have to choose from. You can buy out your spouse’s share of the business, you can remain co-owners, or you can sell your business. Each option has its own benefits, but your best option depends on your specific situation.

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Wheaton asset division attorneyWhen you get a divorce, one of the most difficult subjects to handle is the division of property between you and your spouse. Not only can it fuel the emotional side of divorce, but property division can become complicated when trying to determine what to do with specific assets and how to make the division as fair and equitable as possible. There are a variety of factors that come into play when determining how marital property is divided.

Dividing Real Property

Some of the most complicated issues arise when it comes time to determine how real estate property is divided. Because a home cannot be physically split in half, couples sometimes have to get creative when distributing the value of this property. Spouses typically have three choices when it comes to dealing with the home: selling it and splitting the profits, keeping it in one spouse’s name while that spouse “buys out” the other spouse's share, or continuing to jointly own the home.

Dangers of Continued Joint Ownership

It is rarely a good idea to continue to jointly own property after a divorce. It is in your best interests to ensure that only your name is on the deeds or titles to any property that you are awarded in the asset division process.

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DuPage County divorce attorney for retirement fundsDuring a divorce in the state of Illinois, property is divided on an equitable basis if it is left up to a court judge to make the decision. This means that each spouse will receive his or her fair share of the marital estate, but this does not necessarily mean that everything will be divided in half. You probably already know that things such as your checking and savings accounts, household possessions, and other tangible assets are all part of the marital estate and subject to the property division process. What you may not realize, however, is that other parts of your financial portfolio may also be subject to division, such as your retirement funds.

Retirement Funds Are Usually Marital Property

For many people, their retirement fund is one of the most valuable assets that they own. Even though retirement accounts are often funded with wages from your own job, any gain or increase in value of your retirement account that occurred during the marriage is considered to be marital property and therefore subject to division. Retirement accounts are different than normal checking or savings accounts, and the way you are allowed to access the money is more restrictive. Because of these restrictions, accounts such as 401(k)s and IRAs usually get special treatment during divorce.

Using a QDRO to Divide Your Retirement Accounts

Each spouse will most likely retain ownership of a retirement account that is in their name, but funds may need to be transferred in or out of these accounts during the property division process. This is especially true in marriages in which one spouse was the primary or sole breadwinner, and the other spouse did not have their own retirement account. When transferring funds in these accounts, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) should be used. This will allow funds to be withdrawn from an account without being subject to taxes or the standard 10% penalty for withdrawal before reaching retirement age.

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Wheaton debt division lawyerDealing with the marital estate is arguably one of the most difficult aspects of a divorce. Contention over who gets to keep the family home and who gets the money in savings accounts can be the cause of many arguments during the asset division process. One thing to note is that property and assets are not the only things that must be divided during this division process you must also allocate your debts between the two of you. Allocating debt can prove to be a stressful process, especially since debts created by one spouse may need to be divided between the two of you.

Is it Marital or Non-Marital Debt?

The first thing you must do is determine which of your debts are actually part of the marital estate and which of your debts are personal debts. According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), any property or debts acquired between the day you were married and the day you filed for divorce are considered to be part of the marital estate. If the debt was acquired before you were married or after you filed for divorce, it will probably be considered individual debt. Marital debt can include:

  • Credit card debt

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Wheaton property division lawyerFinancial issues are some of the most commonly-cited reasons for divorce. In some cases, one spouse may not have believed in overspending, while the other spouse was comfortable with leaving a balance on the credit card every month. In other situations, spouses may have disagreed about how much to spend on daily necessities or luxury items. Whatever the reason for the financial mismatch, tensions can increase when the decision to get a divorce is made. It is not uncommon in a marriage for one spouse to be the “go-to” spouse for all things money-related. In situations like these, it can be tempting, and rather easy, for that spouse to conceal or hide assets in hopes that they will not have to share them with the other spouse.

Protecting your finances during your divorce is extremely important, because it can dictate your financial health for the rest of your life. Even if you were the spouse in the marriage who did not handle the majority of the finances, you will want to make sure you are receiving your fair share of assets in the divorce. If you suspect your spouse might be hiding assets from you, here are a few ways you can uncover them:

Start With the Tax Returns

The first place you should begin looking for any financial wrongdoing is on your tax returns. If the tax returns contain itemized deductions, scan through them and see if anything jumps out. For example, a deduction for property taxes can reveal a hidden property. You should also pay attention to capital gains and losses, which can help you discover hidden real estate or stocks and bonds.

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