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Scott B. Meyer Attorney at Law
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How to prepare for the Illinois courts to split up your assets

Considering divorce can lead to great uncertainty and feelings of instability. Not only will you wonder about your social future as you leave your marriage behind you, but you will likely also wonder about the financial implications of a divorce.

Divorce is expensive. Even if you negotiate an uncontested divorce, you can anticipate splitting most of everything you acquired during your marriage with your ex. If you have a prenuptial agreement on record, you probably already know how the courts will divide your assets because you set those terms before you even got married.

For the majority of couples who do not have prenuptial agreements, the courts will then make the determination on how to split your assets. As a state that uses the equitable distribution standard, Illinois seeks to protect the interest of each spouse in the acquired wealth or debt from their marriage.

Figure out which assets are marital property

You will need to present the courts with an inventory of your assets and debts. Typically, you categorize those individual possessions or debts as marital property or separate property. Separate property includes items that you owned outright prior to marriage, assets you inherited before or during the marriage, and gifts you received not purchased with marital income or assets.

Gifts you received from friends and family members may be exempt from division, but gifts your spouse purchased may wind up split in the divorce. Determining what is separate and what is marital can be difficult, which is why you will want to obtain a copy of the financial records from your marriage.

Financial documentation helps you trace assets

Records of your income and spending from the duration of your marriage are some of the most important documents as you plan for divorce. Financial records will show how much you and your spouse earned during the marriage and how you used the income you had.

If you have any reason to think that your ex may intentionally hide assets from you or the courts, those financial records become much more important. They can provide a way of proving that your ex used marital income to obtain certain assets, such as jewelry or fine art, so that you can split their value with your ex in the divorce.

Prepare yourself for the potential of an uneven split

Far too many people mistakenly assume that equitable division means a 50-50 split of all assets and debts. That often is not how the courts end up dividing the assets acquired by a married couple.

Equitable division focuses on what is fair and reasonable, not just on even financial value. The courts will look at everything from the length of the marriage to the income potential with each spouse when determining how to split the possessions. However, the courts will not consider marital misconduct, such as infidelity, when deciding what is fair.

Talking with an attorney can help you analyze the situation to determine what is likely in your divorce. The sooner you begin preparing, the better your chances for a positive outcome!

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