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Naperville divorce attorney property division

When you have come to the decision that you and your spouse are going to get a divorce, you will likely experience a flood of different emotions, ranging from relief, sadness, depression, anger, and rage. While it may seem strange to experience such complex emotions, divorce is a complicated event that encompasses every area of your life. Once you reach the property division stage of your divorce, you and your spouse will be required to divide your marital property in an equitable manner, according to Illinois law. Your marital property includes anything that either you or your spouse took possession of during your marriage, including items like vehicles, the family home, and other real estate. Determining what to do with these assets -- especially the family home -- typically begins with an appraisal.

What Are the Benefits of a Home Appraisal?

For many couples, the family home is the biggest investment and the most expensive asset they own. Handling these assets carefully is crucial for you to get your fair share of the marital estate. Getting your home appraised before you proceed with the asset distribution process can provide you with an estimate as to how much your home is actually worth. In many cases, especially when there are children involved, there are emotional attachments to the home. This sometimes leads to one spouse wanting to keep the home. In this case, an appraisal can still be useful as you will have an accurate market value of the home so you know how much money you need to “buy out” your spouse’s portion of the home.

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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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