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Naperville prenuptial agreement attorneyIn most cases, marriage is meant to be a permanent partnership, and a couple will plan to stay together for the rest of their lives. However, it is important to remember that a significant percentage of marriages end in divorce. While the actual divorce rate in the United States is difficult to determine accurately, it is generally considered to be between 40 and 50%. Even though it may be unpleasant to contemplate, recognizing the distinct possibility that your marriage may end in the future can help you consider how you want certain issues to be handled in a potential divorce.

By discussing these matters with your partner before you get married, you can determine whether a prenuptial agreement is right for you. This type of legal agreement can provide both of you with reassurance that you will have the financial resources you need if your marriage ends, and by making decisions now, you can take some of the uncertainty and conflict out of the divorce process. A prenup can also include provisions to ensure that certain assets will be given to your children, or it can be used to protect a business that you or your partner own from being negatively affected by a divorce.

Terms of a Prenuptial Agreement

A prenup will usually focus on financial matters related to the property owned by you or your partner, the assets you acquire during your marriage, and the income that each of you earns. You can specify how property will be divided or allocated if you get divorced or separated, if one spouse dies, or in the case of many other events that you may specify. Your prenup can also include terms detailing each spouse’s rights and responsibilities toward different assets during your marriage, including the right to buy, sell, use, manage, exchange, or lease property.

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DuPage County divorce attorneysAn inheritance is property that you receive when a loved one passes away. Though the death of a loved one is often a tragic event, an inheritance can provide you with a bit of financial security. If you are married or plan on getting married, this can pose a unique situation if you were to get a divorce. Because many married couples have shared finances, one of the biggest parts of divorce is determining how to divide assets and debts. In Illinois, this process is done in an equitable manner, which does not necessarily mean that both spouses will come out of the divorce with half of the marital estate. A variety of factors are weighed to determine what is equitable, including each spouse’s income and earning potential, the duration of the marriage, and each spouse’s non-marital property in relation to the marital property. So, what does all of this mean for a spouse who has received an inheritance?

Understanding Marital vs. Non-Marital Property

Before your property can be divided, you must determine which of your property is non-marital and which of it is considered marital property. In general, any assets or debts that you have acquired during the time that you were married is considered to be part of the marital estate. This means that this property is subject to division during the divorce process. There are some exceptions to this rule, however, and inheritances are one of them. As per Illinois law, property that one spouses acquired by gift, legacy or descent is exempt from being considered marital property.

Keeping Your Inheritance Separate

Even though an inheritance is technically non-marital property, there are ways in which it can have both marital and non-marital characteristics. If this happens, then your inheritance could be considered part of the marital estate and subject to division between you and your spouse. For example, if you received a cash inheritance, and you deposited that money into an account that you share with your spouse for household expenses, it could be considered part of the marital estate.

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How to Lock Up Your Assets with a Financial Restraining OrderYou should be on guard against your spouse dissipating your marital assets during your divorce. Some people will transfer assets into hidden accounts or make reckless or selfish expenditures before their spouse gets a chance to divide the assets in the divorce. At one time, Illinois law would automatically freeze a couple’s marital assets at the start of the divorce, but the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the law was unconstitutional because it was overly broad and lacking due process. Instead, you can protect your marital assets by requesting a temporary financial restraining order.

What Does the Order Do?

A temporary financial restraining order prevents both you and your spouse from spending, transferring, disposing of, or concealing your assets without permission from the court during your divorce. There is an exception for the assets that you use to pay for basic living expenses, such as food, housing, and utilities. Major purchases of non-essential items or amenities would require permission from the court. A temporary order will usually last for 10 days and can be extended after a full court hearing.

How Can You Receive an Order?

The court will issue a financial restraining order if you can prove all of the following:

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How to Know When You Need a Postnuptial AgreementCouples have the option of creating a prenuptial agreement before they get married, but some never act on it. There could be several reasons for this, such as:

  • Believing it is unnecessary given their level of personal assets
  • Feeling uncomfortable with the idea of preparing for a hypothetical divorce
  • Simply not thinking about getting a prenup or knowing what it is

Now that you have married, you still have the opportunity to create a postnuptial agreement. Like a prenuptial agreement, a postnuptial agreement can decide how you will divide your marital properties, define which properties are separate, and determine whether one of you will owe spousal maintenance to the other. If you did not feel a need to create a prenuptial agreement, you may ask why you would want to create a postnuptial agreement. There are several financial factors that could cause you to change your mind on creating an agreement:

  1. You Have Started or Grown a Business: Many couples begin their marriages owning few valuable assets. Starting a successful business or practice means that you now own valuable property. Businesses that are created or see growth during a marriage are considered marital property. During a divorce, your spouse would have a right to an equitable share of your business. With a postnuptial agreement, you can state that you would keep complete control of the business in the event of a divorce.
  2. You Stopped Working During Your Marriage: It is common for a spouse to take time off from work in order to raise children. Even if you did not leave your job, you may have reduced your hours or passed up opportunities for career advancement, which makes you more reliant on your spouse’s income. You would be entitled to spousal maintenance if you divorced, and it may be easier to negotiate the maintenance amount now in a postnuptial agreement than during a divorce.
  3. You Received an Inheritance: People can suddenly come into possession of valuable properties, such as when they receive an inheritance from a family member. Inheritances are not marital properties when they are gifts meant for one person. However, the longer you possess the inheritance, the more likely it is that it will mingle with your marital properties. A postnuptial agreement can define which properties make up your inheritance.

Contact a Naperville, Illinois, Family Law Lawyer

Creating a postnuptial agreement does not have to be an awkward experience. At Calabrese Associates, P.C., we work with many couples who have decided to make a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement for practical reasons. To schedule a consultation with a DuPage County family law attorney, call 630-393-3111.

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How Do You Determine Who Keeps Your Pet After Divorce?A pet is not a mere object to most people who own them. The emotional bond that you form with your pets makes them more like family members to you. Illinois divorce law used to treat pets like properties that must be divided between spouses, but that practice changed with the enactment of a new pet custody law in 2018. Now, courts consider the well-being of pets when divorcees argue over who should keep a pet, which is similar to how courts settle parenting disputes.

What Counts as a Pet?

For the purpose of divorce, Illinois law makes a distinction between “companion animals” and “service animals.” A service animal is any animal that has been trained for the purpose of helping someone who is disabled. A companion animal is any animal that is not a service animal. You cannot claim ownership of a service animal that your spouse needs to perform their everyday tasks.

How Pet Custody Works

Illinois’ divorce law still defines pets as properties that can be marital or nonmarital. A pet is a marital property if you purchased it during your marriage, with an exception for pets that were gifts or inheritances. You can also stipulate whether a pet is a marital property in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.

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How Your Divorce May Affect Your BusinessGoing through a divorce can be perilous for your business, particularly if it is a smaller, family-run business. Some owners have seen the value of their business drop or lost control of it because of the consequences of the divorce process. It is important to work with your divorce attorney on protecting your business during the divorce and allowing it to thrive afterward.

Marital Property

You may need to fight for ownership of your business during your divorce negotiations. Your business is marital property if you created it during your marriage or used marital assets to invest in it. A business that predates your marriage can be nonmarital property, though the amount that the business increased in value during your marriage can be a marital asset. You have several options when your business is part of the equitable division of property. You can:

  • Have complete ownership of the business in exchange for other marital assets of equitable value;
  • Co-own the business with your former spouse after the divorce;
  • Split your business into two companies that you own separately; or
  • Sell your business and divide the proceeds.

The option you choose may depend on the size of your business and how involved your spouse is in it. Your spouse may be content to let you keep the business if he or she is not part of it. A spouse who helped create and run the business may be unwilling to give up his or her business ownership without ample compensation. However, co-owning or dividing a small business may be impractical, and selling your business means losing your source of income.

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How Winning the Lottery Would Affect Your DivorceWinning the lottery is not something that you can plan for, but how you respond to winning is important if you are going through a divorce. You must first determine whether your spouse is entitled to a share of the winnings as part of the division of property in Illinois’ divorce laws. If your winnings are completely your property, your sudden influx of money will still affect how you settle your divorce. What you cannot do is hide the fact that you have won.

Property Status

Whether your lottery winnings are marital property in a divorce depends on when and how you purchased the ticket:

  • Your lottery winnings would most likely be marital property if you purchased the winning ticket before you started the divorce process. Your individual income is marital income during your marriage, and purchases made with marital income are marital property; and
  • Your winnings could be individual property if you purchased the ticket while separated from your spouse but before your divorce is completed. You would need to prove that you paid for the ticket with your individual income.

Illinois law states that spouses must equitably divide their marital properties during a divorce. Your spouse would not necessarily receive exactly half of your prize money. Instead, he or she would receive what the court believes is a fair share of the money, depending on the duration of your marriage and his or her financial situation.

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Five Mistakes to Avoid in High Asset DivorceDivorcees with high-value assets follow the same laws as everyone else getting a divorce. The difference is that wealthy individuals have more at stake in terms of finances. The process of dividing up their assets is often more complicated because the assets are numerous and diverse. Whether because of miscalculation or emotion, making a mistake can cost thousands or millions of dollars. Individuals in a high asset divorce must take care to avoid these mistakes when dividing up their marital properties:

  1. Hiding Assets: With the prospect of losing several valuable marital properties, a divorcee may try to protect them by purposely hiding them or failing to disclose them. Common tactics include creating hidden accounts or temporarily transferring properties to a friend. A divorce court may penalize a party who has been caught trying to deceive a spouse. The guilty party may be forced to compensate the other spouse by giving up marital assets or money.
  2. Incomplete Investigation: A spouse can be held accountable for hiding assets only if the other spouse catches him or her. Failing to thoroughly search for marital assets puts a spouse at a disadvantage. The identified properties may be divided equitably, but having hidden properties means one spouse is receiving an inequitable share. If a spouse learns about the hidden assets after the divorce is completed, he or she is responsible for providing evidence of the deception.
  3. Undervaluing Assets: Once spouses identify all of their marital assets, they must put an accurate value to each asset. Complex properties, such as businesses or investments, are common in high asset divorces and difficult to assess. One spouse will likely maintain complete control of the business, while the other receives equitable compensation. When assessing a business, assessors must determine both its current and future value.
  4. Forgetting Tax Obligations: Not all marital properties are treated equally in terms of taxes. Some properties, such as real estate, are subject to additional taxes. After taxes are taken out, a once-equitable division of property may seem more uneven.
  5. Giving in to Emotions: Rich or poor, couples are likely to feel some bitterness towards each other during a divorce. This may cause parties to make decisions based on spite, rather than what will benefit themselves. With high asset divorces, there are more opportunities to try to punish a spouse by obstructing his or her efforts to receive an equitable share of properties. Vindictive actions do not help negotiations and needlessly prolong the process.

Settling a High Asset Divorce

A divorce that includes several valuable assets requires an experienced and knowledgeable divorce attorney. A DuPage County divorce attorney at Calabrese Associates, PC, can properly identify and assess your marital properties. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-393-3111.

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