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How Are Assets Divided in an Illinois Divorce?

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Approximately 2.2 out of every 1,000 Illinois residents are divorced. When Illinoisans divorce, their marital property is unlikely to be divided equally. With equitable distribution laws, Illinois divorce courts may divide marital assets between spouses 30/70 or 40/60, for instance, but infrequently 50/50.

Illinois is not a community property state. States that uphold community property distribution laws split marital assets 50/50 between spouses, no matter what the circumstances. But in Illinois, court officials decide what is equitable distribution and individual circumstances can sway their decision.

Why Unequal Asset DistributionProperty-Division-Divorce

While seemingly unfair to the spouse who is awarded less, Illinois courts are intent on dividing marital property fairly and justly. Usually, this results in an unequal distribution of assets. The courts’ judgement is affected in large part by the unique situations surrounding the dissolution of the union.

In Illinois, it matters little how malicious one spouse is toward the other. Being a state that recognizes “no-fault” divorce, Illinois courts do not fault one spouse for causing the divorce, such in instances of affairs. This means the judge will not award more marital assets to the victimized spouse.

However, financial misconduct is recognized by Illinois courts and awarded justly. When a spouse wastes a family’s financial reserves on gifts to his mistress, the courts will order the cheating spouse to reimburse the funds to the divorcing spouse, as the money was not used for family benefit.

What is considered marital property?

A married couple may buy a pricey armoire, for instance. During a divorce, this armoire will be awarded to one spouse. It is up to the courts to decide who receives this valuable piece of furniture, because it is considered marital property—an item that was acquired during the marriage.

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In Illinois, possessions acquired outside of the marriage, such as before or after, are considered non-marital property. A sapphire necklace inherited by one spouse before the legal union was formed is an example of non-marital property. Illinois divorce courts cannot divide non-marital assets.

Marital property can be combined, making equitable distribution challenging. For instance, one spouse’s wages from the period prior to the marriage may be placed in a joint account with the other spouse. Courts deem the funds as marital property, unless the original funding source can be traced and proven.

Additional instances of commingling include when funds earned prior to the marriage are used to pay for family goods. Illinois courts call this transmutation—a gift toward the union. The judge will not return the funds during a divorce, since the money has been converted to marital property.

Factors influencing Division of Property

In order to arrive at the most just and fair split of marital assets, Illinois courts consider several factors. Judges will look at the length of the marriage, the income earned by either or both spouses during the union and each spouse’s age, education level and health.

Each spouse’s pre-marital property also receives attention. The courts examine the spouses’ contributions to the union and marital estate as well as any dissipations that affect the marital estate. Dissipation is when money is spent for non-marital purposes (lavish spending with intents that the other spouse will pay for it).

1. Length of Marriage

The shorter the length of the marriage, the more likely it is that an Illinois divorce court will award a 50/50 split of marital assets. In longer marriages where there is an income discrepancy, judges typically favor granting the spouse with less earnings a larger portion of the marital property.

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Short-term marriages are scrutinized in courts, and for good reason. Illinois divorce and asset distribution laws work to prevent gold-diggers from unscrupulously marrying wealthy individuals in efforts to derive a hefty payout upon a divorce just a day or two after the union.

2. Earning Power

Illinois judges view equal-earning partners as deserving of a 50/50 division. But in a long-term marriage, a homemaker is likely to receive a larger split. The working spouse can continue to earn income after the dissolution of the marriage, while the homemaker has a lesser earning capacity.

Income discrepancies influence a court’s decision to award more or less to the working and non-working spouse. As mentioned above, the ability to earn future income is considered by judges. Just how much a spouse can reasonably earn after the divorce affects the outcome of the property split.

3. Children

Illinois courts consider the well-being of children when dividing marital assets during a divorce. Judges try to keep the kids at the family home or in the same school district. This effort will result in one spouse being awarded the family home as part of the division of marital property.

Work with a Divorce Lawyer for Proper Asset Division

Navigating marital division laws during a divorce is hardly straightforward. Numerous factors are to be presented to the courts to receive the fairest split. An experienced divorce lawyer from Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. is prepared to discuss your concerns and present your case in the most favorable light.

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The divorce lawyers at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. are knowledgeable in all aspects of the continually changing divorce laws in Illinois. In addition to thorough knowledge of current statutes as well as legal expertise, our clients receive over 50 years of combined experience in family law.

We are ready to represent you with issues involving child support, pre-nuptial agreements, spousal support, visitation, post-decree matters and property division.

Our lawyers will help you understand what falls under the category of marital property, which can include stocks, houses, vehicles and pets.

With a legal team of experienced family law attorneys in Oak Lawn, Illinois, the reputable firm of Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. is prepared to help individuals who are in the midst of a divorce or anticipating one. Our divorce attorneys are ready to guide you every step of the way, answer all questions, present you with your best legal options and support you during the trying process of a divorce.

Contact Us

To receive a free consultation with our divorce attorneys, give us a call at (708) 425-9530.

Divorce vs Annulment: What’s the Difference?

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A marriage can be legally dissolved in as little as a few days after a marriage ceremony to as much as 15 years or more into a civil union. The two ways a legal union can be undone are through a divorce or annulment. While there are similarities such as both being recognized by judicial court systems, a divorce significantly differs from an annulment.

Divorce vs. Annulment

Difference Between Divorce and Annulment

The main difference between a divorce and annulment is that a divorce separates the two parties involved in a valid marriage while an annulment legally deems a marriage invalid.

What is the short definition of divorce?

A marriage is a legal, civil union. A divorce legally dissolves such a union. Once a divorce is settled, each newly single partner is free to enter into a legal union with another person. The ability to remarry someone else is not uncommonly sought after by divorcing spouses.

What is the short definition of annulment?

Like the tip of a pencil to paper, an annulment erases a marriage, declaring it null and void. Annulments go so far as to deem the union as never legally binding. Despite the marriage being legally declared as nonexistent, records of the original marriage remain in court file systems.

What is the time limit to seek a divorce?

Either spouse may file for divorce at any time, whether it is after 2 or 25 years of marriage. However, Illinois divorce laws have residency requirements; one divorcing spouse must live in the state for at least 90 days in order to legally file for a divorce.

What is the time limit to seek an annulment?

Unlike seeking a divorce, pursuing an annulment has a time limit. In Illinois courts, the time limit is determined by what grounds the married couple have for the annulment. If the spouses do not meet the designated time limits for the grounds they are seeking, the marriage becomes legally valid.

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What are grounds for divorce in Illinois?

Married couples must present to the courts a valid reason to dissolve their union. Illinois divorce laws accept both no-fault and fault-based grounds. Under Illinois law, situations where the spouses live apart for two years with no hopes for reconciliation are considered no-fault grounds.

The fault-based grounds for divorce are many. When a partner is addicted to drugs, deserts the other spouse or commits domestic violence, divorce is a legal way out of harm’s way. Spouses who misrepresent themselves commit fraud, which is also legal grounds for divorce.

When one spouse connives his way into the marriage despite being married to another person, bigamy is the outcome and is a valid reason for divorce. A divorce may also be sought when one partner is forced into the union through coercion or threats.

Consuming alcohol or drugs destabilizes an individual, making him mentally incompetent to provide informed consent to legal events, like marriage. Similarly, mental illness can plague a person of the ability to make decisions. Both situations are grounds for divorce.

What are grounds for an annulment?Divorce-Law-Orland-Park-IL

Filing spouses should have reasonable grounds for an annulment. Several common grounds exist that drive married couples to seek an annulment. Each has a unique time limit within which couples seeking an annulment must adhere to in order to proceed and void their marriage.
Like grounds for divorce, valid reasons for an annulment include the inability to provide informed consent. Different from divorce, however, is the 90-day time limit an annulment requires. Once the divorcing spouse is aware of the grounds, he has three months to file for an annulment in Illinois.

While grounds for divorce include impotence, filing for an annulment based on these same grounds must be done within a certain period. Under Illinois law, a spouse may seek an annulment after one year from the time the petitioner becomes aware of the spouse’s inability to have sexual relations.

Bigamy is a reason to divorce and is also a good reason to seek an annulment. Interestingly, legal experts suggest that a civil union with a married person is not legally valid. To be safe, lawyers advise the betrayed party to go before the courts for a pronouncement of invalidity.

What is the process for divorce?

Illinois offers no-fault divorces, which means proving wrongdoing is unnecessary. Once an honorable reason for divorce is established, the petitioning spouse sends a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage to the other party. The defendant has 30 days from being served to respond. Here’s more information on the divorce process in Illinois.

What is the process for an annulment?

Unlike filing for a divorce, the annulment process starts with a Petition for Annulment. The petition is filed with the local circuit court. The defendant served with the form either contests it or agrees to it. A judge will then declare an annulment, if adequate grounds are presented.

Divorce or Annulment

A divorce and an annulment are two different beasts, but either can be successfully presented before the courts by a qualified divorce attorney from Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. Our family law attorneys stay up to date on all current Illinois laws in order to deliver our clients’ strongest cases to the courts.

Working with Our Divorce Attorneys

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Each divorce or annulment case comes with unique baggage. The legal team at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. is prepared to deliver undivided attention to inform our clients of their options and expertly handle each case. We provide experience with all issues surrounding divorce and annulment. We are prepared to fight for your rights when it comes to spousal support, domestic violence, division of property, and a host of related issues.

Spouses living in the community of Oak Lawn, Illinois, will receive powerful representation from the family law attorneys at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. With 50 years of combined legal expertise and a wealth of knowledge about Illinois divorce law, our professional divorce attorneys will handle your case very carefully.

Get a Free Consultation

Interested in a free consultation? Give us a call at (708) 425-9530 or fill out a contact form to the right and we will get back to you right away. We look forward to working with you! 

Illinois Divorce Law

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Divorce is oftentimes one of the most challenging events in an individual’s life. A once-meaningful relationship has turned sour, and the family falls apart. Enduring the uphill battle of divorce proceedings is an emotional and financial struggle. Having a general understanding of the basics of Illinois divorce law can somewhat ease the complicated process of navigating through the legal system.

Uncontested Divorce

Divorce-Attorney-Gavel

Many states will vary according to divorce law. here is what Illinois states.

If you and your spouse agree to dissolve the union and are on friendly terms, an uncontested divorce will save each party significant hardship. You’ll avoid going to trial if all matters related to the divorce can be handled by filing a joint petition and attending the final hearing.

Certain qualifications must be met for both spouses to proceed with an uncontested divorce. These criteria include but are not limited to:

  • The length of marriage has been eight years or less.
  • The couple have no children, and the wife is not pregnant.
  • Both parties have lived apart for six months and are separated.
  • The right to receive alimony is permanently waived by both spouses.
  • Either spouse has lived in Illinois for 90 days prior to filing for divorce.

A joint simplified dissolution requires both spouses to agree on all the major points of the divorce.

While a friendly divorce is rather uncommon, contested divorces appear more frequently before a judge.

Filing for Divorce

Spouses who wish to legally separate ways should start by filing for divorce. The individual who first files the case is known as the plaintiff. The defendant is the spouse who must answer the initial petition within 30 days.

At least one party must be a resident of Illinois for 90 days in order to file for dissolution in the state. A non-resident spouse, who is not under the jurisdiction of the Illinois court, cannot be ordered by the court to pay for child support, alimony, or debts.

Length of Divorce Proceedings

The divorce process is lengthy. Paperwork alone takes one month to complete before receiving a final court date. An unresolved case will go to trial. Divorces can linger in court for a minimum of one year.

Maiden Name Restoration

A spouse whose divorce is granted can request that her maiden or former name be reinstated.

Divorces Based on Fault

Illinois recognizes several faults as being grounds for divorce. These marital misconducts include, but are not limited to:

  • Adultery
  • Impotence
  • Bigamy
  • An attempt by one spouse on the other spouse’s life
  • Drug or alcohol addictions
  • Transference of an STD from one spouse to the other
  • Felony or other criminal conviction
  • Abandonment

Fault-based grounds like these rarely make an impact on the divorce outcomes, since the division of property and alimony decisions enforced by the courts do not rely on them. Rather, the judge will consider the faults when evaluating matters surrounding child custody and visitation.

No-Fault Divorce

On the other hand, a no-fault divorce means that neither spouse is at fault for the dissolution of the marriage. Requirements for a no-fault divorce in Illinois involve four simple criteria:

  • The spouses have separated, living apart for at least two years (spouses can still live under the same roof and be separated; however, they must demonstrate that they live separate and apart)
  • Irreconcilable differences (one of the most commonly heard reasons for divorce)
  • Efforts toward reconciliation have failed
  • The family would not benefit from any possible reconciliation

No-fault grounds for divorce do not require proof of any marital misdoings.

Property Division

Illinois divorce law is established with the aim to provide equitable and fair divisions of property—which does not necessarily mean equal. Any property, such as stocks or pension benefits, acquired by either spouse after the marriage is deemed marital property. Marital property is divided according to several criteria (none of which consider marital misconduct), such as

  • The length of the marriage
  • Each spouse’s contribution toward the acquisition or maintenance of the marital property
  • The economic state of each spouse when the division of property becomes effective

When children are involved, the court may set aside a portion of the estates in a trust or fund to support the overall welfare of any minor or dependent children.

Child Custody

Parents of children who have resided in Illinois for at least six consecutive months may be granted custody of the children. Child custody decisions are evaluated and made by the courts. The judge’s determinations are based on a set of relevant factors, such as

  • The preferences of the parents as to custody
  • The preferences of the child(ren) as to his or her custodian
  • Any relationships between the parents, siblings or significant adults that would affect the child’s welfare
  • The child’s adjustment to a new school or community
  • Any presence of repeated abuse
  • Whether or not a parent is a sex offender
  • The physical and mental well-being of all parties involved

When determining child custody, Illinois courts favor joint custody, especially when the situation will be in the best interests of the minor.

Help with Illinois Divorce Law

Spouses entangled in the intricate web of divorce, with its seemingly limitless laws and requirements, should seek the services of an experienced family law attorney, one who can provide a clear path toward marital dissolution.

Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. retains a staff of experienced divorce attorneys. Our team offers over 50 years of combined experience in all areas of divorce law. Our lawyers stay knowledgeable about current Illinois divorce laws and practices, which are updated by lawmakers over time.

The Attorneys at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd.

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If you have any questions or need help with your divorce, give the attorneys at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. a call and we’ll schedule an initial consultation.

The Berry K. Tucker & Associates Ltd. team of divorce lawyers serve our clients in several areas revolving around divorce. Child support, visitation, spousal support, and division of property are common areas that the divorce lawyers handle with ease and dedication. Other relevant areas of expertise include pre- and post-nuptial agreements and post-decree issues.

While it helps to be familiar with Illinois divorce law, you can rely on the divorce lawyers at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. to manage your case with professionalism, experience in Illinois divorce law and commitment to your case.

Give us a call at (708) 425-9530 in Oak Lawn, IL.

9 Divorce Planning Tips

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Divorce. The mere mention of the term triggers a rollercoaster of negative factors, including a drain on finances and a seemingly unending toll on the emotions. The presence of children can make child custody battles exactly that—an important but exhausting fight.

Prepare for an impending divorce so you’re well-equipped with the armaments of combat. Divorce proceedings differ markedly, however, with some divorces being amiable, while others teeter on the brink of war. The type of divorce you will be involved in can determine how smoothly the process will go.

But overall, here’s how to prepare for divorce so there are no dreadful surprises along the way:

  1. Prepare financially
  2. Expect a lengthy process
  3. Seek emotional support
  4. Inventory property
  5. Close joint accounts
  6. Choose your divorce team
  7. Prepare for custody battles
  8. Find a good attorney

1. Prepare Financially

Spouses can expect to spend thousands of dollars on divorce. On average $15,500 covers the cost of attorney’s fees. At the lower end, spouses can get divorced for $1,000. Partners have even been known to spend $100,000 to legally split from their spouses.

The more elements that are involved in the divorce, the higher the cost of the divorce will be. Examples that drive divorce expenses upward include child custody, child support, spousal support or alimony, property division, and reimbursement claims.

Adequately plan to finance your divorce by setting aside a hefty portion of your earnings. Estimate your monthly budget. Cut unnecessary expenses. Ensure you have enough monetary assets to maintain your standard of living through a possibly lengthy divorce.

2. Expect a Lengthy Process

Aside from eating away at your expenses, a divorce might draw out for months. The estimated time it takes for a divorce to be completed starts with filing the petition and ends with settling or receiving a court judgment. Battling spouses can fight out a divorce over the course of 11 months on average. When several issues are involved, a divorce is likely to be resolved in 17.6 months. Couples who settled took about nine months to finalize the divorce. Whether your divorce is messy or straightforward, plan to spend time managing your part during the legal process.

3. Seek Emotional Support

A divorce can speed through several emotions, from anger and guilt to frustration and relief. Prepare for this emotional journey by seeking support from friends, a divorce support group or therapists.

Remember that during a divorce, intense emotions can lead to poor decision making. A circle of positive support can help you maintain a level head and help you approach divorce negotiations with calmness. Find a reliable network to support you through this life-changing event.

4. Inventory Property

Marital property can be identified as personal belongings, heirlooms, real estate, income, tools, jewelry and financial assets. During a divorce, marital property will be divided. Prepare for the division of property by documenting your belongings with digital photos. Photographic evidence of your personal property should be dated to prove ownership.

Keep all evidence of your belongings in a safe place away from your spouse. Examples of places to store evidence of marital property can be at work, a safe deposit box, with friends or family, and electronically. You’ll protect your marital property in the event your spouse attempts to claim that the items are not lawfully yours.

5. Close Joint Accounts

While married, spouses commonly share bank accounts. Open an individual financial account and close any joint accounts as soon as you make the decision to file for divorce. Electronic account statements sent to a new email address will offer you added security and protection from your spouse.

6. Choose Your Divorce Team

Carefully select reliable people to take you through the stressful duration of a divorce. A divorce team might consist of a mediator, judge, financial planner, mental health professional to assess child custody situations, and a dependable divorce lawyer.

Navigating a divorce successfully requires the help of others. Trust your team of intelligent and experienced people, who are on your side to help you achieve the best outcome.

7. Prepare for Custody Battles

When you expect custody disputes, prepare well in advance. Show the court how involved you are in your children’s lives. Note who takes the children to appointments and extracurricular activities. The children’s school can provide documentation for who attended parent-teacher conferences.

When relevant, drug evaluations and police reports can demonstrate why a spouse should not have custody of the children.

9. Find a Good Attorney

As a legal process, divorce requires the services of a lawyer. Divorce proceedings may even be accomplished with a mediator. Complicated divorces especially, however, require the expertise of a divorce attorney. Negotiations can be complex, and an experienced lawyer can help you navigate through the paperwork and processes.

Experts recommend interviewing at least three attorneys who are experienced in family law and the specific type of divorce you need before settling on one to represent you. A lawyer who is a good negotiator, who is knowledgeable about the changing laws and who communicates well is invaluable during the divorce proceedings. Plus, an ideal lawyer will educate you on the divorce process and creatively solve arising issues.

A trust or estate lawyer can offer recommendations for reputable divorce lawyers. Local attorneys also can be found via online websites that feature valuable client reviews.

Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd.

A local divorce attorney is essential to ensure the lawyer is experienced in the judicial system in your area. If you live in the Oak Lawn, IL community and are planning for a divorce, contact the area’s most trusted law firm, Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd.

Our experienced divorce attorneys have successfully worked on cases revolving around spousal support, child support, domestic violence, division of property and numerous other aspects of divorce, like post-decree issues and visitation. The lawyers at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. are thoroughly knowledgeable in the various current laws to offer the best solutions possible for each unique case.

Once you are ready and prepared for divorce, you can count on the legal team at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. to thoroughly answer any questions you have about the legal process.

Every Case is Unique

Fill out the form below to submit your case for a free consultation.

5210 West 95th Street
Oak Lawn, IL 60453

708-425-9530

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