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Wheaton divorce lawyerEvery divorce case will have its areas that cause disputes. For some couples, child-related issues will be the epicenter of most of the divorce conflict. For others, typically spouses who do not have children, the asset division process can be this source of contention. The asset division process can be long and confusing, especially since much of the process involves delving into your finances.

Unfortunately, divorce can bring out the worst in some people, prompting them to do things that they normally would not do or things that they know they should not do. In a high-asset divorce, it is not uncommon for a spouse to attempt to hide assets or otherwise keep his or her spouse from receiving a portion of the marital estate. This is where help from a forensic accountant can be beneficial.

Illinois Asset Division and Discovery

When it comes to the rules governing asset division, each state is different. The state of Illinois uses what is called an equitable distribution model. This, however, is not to be confused with equal distribution. Equitable distribution means that each spouse will receive a portion of the marital estate, that is deemed fair when all relevant circumstances are considered. Illinois courts urge couples to agree upon asset division themselves, but a court will divide assets if need be. If the court divides a couple’s marital assets, there is a chance that one spouse will receive a larger portion of the marital estate than the other spouse.

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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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