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Grotta & Associates Family Law Blog

How will an Illinois divorce affect your plans for retirement?

There are many uncertainties involved in getting a divorce. Unless you and your spouse agree on specific terms for asset division and other issues via a prenuptial agreement, uncontested divorce or negotiated terms, the courts will end up making the major decisions. Since every marriage and every divorce is unique, it's impossible for anyone to accurately predict the exact outcome of your divorce.

However, a review of state law and common practices can help you understand the likely outcome of certain aspects of your divorce. One issue that particularly concerns divorcing couples aged 40 or higher is the potential impact of the divorce on retirement accounts. The larger and more complex the assets you've acquired during marriage, the more uncertainty there may be about their allocation in a divorce. Certain rules and practices, however, will guide the court's decision-making process.

Dissipation of marital assets can impact the division of assets

Divorce can bring out the worst in some people, leading them to do things that they usually wouldn't consider. Sometimes, for example, one spouse may take steps to intentionally hide marital assets from the other. They do this in the hope that it will result in more assets for them when the courts finalize the divorce. If caught, the person hiding assets could end up receiving much less as a result of this attempt.

Another common behavior immediately prior to divorce is dissipation of marital assets. At its most basic, this refers to when one spouse uses marital assets for something other than the marital union during the breakdown of the marriage. There are many forms that dissipation can take, and they can definitely impact the outcome of the asset division process.

Protecting your assets: Negotiating during high-asset divorces

A high-asset divorce has the potential to drain your income quickly, especially if you and your spouse can't come to an agreement on how to split your assets. Fortunately, there are alternatives to spending too long fighting each other. You can choose arbitration or mediation to help you resolve your issues quickly while protecting the assets you want.

Arbitration and mediation help because they take less time and cost less. You and your spouse both go through the motions, so you can come up with agreements that work or have someone else determine what's fair in your particular situation.

Hidden assets can impact the outcome of your Illinois divorce

Once you've reached the decision that a divorce is the only solution to your marital problems, there are a lot of issues to consider. Divorce can impact your social relationships, as well as your financial situation. Most people want to know what to expect during the process of getting divorced and afterward, when they are rebuilding their lives.

Doing adequate research into both Illinois state divorce laws and case precedents can help you understand what to expect. It's critical to remember that no two marriages or divorces are the same, so nothing can completely and accurately predict the outcome to a divorce (other than an existing prenuptial agreement). If you and your spouse don't agree to terms, the courts will need to make important decisions on your behalf, including how to divide the assets from your marriage.

Don’t just get it over with, prepare your finances for divorce

There may come a point when you realize that divorce is the best way to escape a bad marriage. Although this is going to change your life in many ways, you should keep in mind that things will get better sooner rather than later.

Up front, it's important that you get everything in order. Here's something to keep in mind: You should never rush through the divorce process because you want to put it in the past as quickly as possible.

Don't do this during your divorce

Following your instincts and intuition is vital in life, but during your divorce proceedings, you might want to keep your "instincts" in check. This means that if your spouse upsets you and your instincts say it's time to raise your voice, consider taking ten deep breaths and seeing how you feel afterward.

There are many things you should not do during your divorce process. Common sense will dictate that you avoid most of them. However, your instincts could override your common sense and you might be tempted to do them anyway.

Pulling money from accounts before a divorce could cost you

You can tell that a divorce is inevitable because of the way you and your spouse feel about one another. Maybe there's been infidelity. Perhaps you've grown apart over time. Whatever the reason, it's natural to want to start planning for your future without your spouse. Don't get ahead of yourself by making major financial mistakes as you head for divorce court.

It's common to feel like you shouldn't have to support your spouse when a divorce is imminent. After all, if you're the one making the most money, why should someone who wants to leave you continue to benefit from all your hard work?

Do your personal contributions for a 401K impact asset division?

There are a lot of factors that impact how assets get divided during a divorce. The kind of divorce you're seeking, whether or not there is a prenuptial agreement on record and even custody of your children, can have an impact on who gets what. The courts in Illinois strive to fairly divide all marital property between both spouses during a divorce.

Marital property in Illinois includes any assets earned during the marriage. It matters less who earned the income or obtained the asset and far more when the acquisition took place. Amounts in the account before your marriage will likely get exempted from the asset division process, but any deposits or accrued interest during your marriage is subject to division by the courts.

There might be an alternative to monthly alimony payments

Now that you are starting to take the first steps to move forward with divorce, do you expect the judge to include spousal support as part of the divorce decree? A Cook County judge is going to examine certain factors in making an alimony determination. For example, the court might examine the property each of you will walk away with when the divorce is final, your earning capabilities, the length of your marriage, and even your health and mental condition.

Once the court makes its decision regarding the need for alimony, it will then make a determination on how much alimony you should receive and for how long. Judges usually make this decision based on the particular circumstances of each case. If you do not want to be saddled with depending on monthly alimony payments, there may be an alternative available. If the court and your future ex-husband agree, you may be able to take a single lump sum alimony payment.

Ending your marriage doesn’t have to mean ending your business

Deciding to end your marriage is the first decision you will make in what is usually a very stressful and complex process. This is especially true when you have a substantial amount of assets to divide. On top of determining whether to sell your primary residence in Orland Park or keep it, you and your wife will have to negotiate over the retirement and investment accounts, your vacation home, and everything down to the living room furniture.

Divorce becomes even more complicated when you throw a business in the mix. While you may be willing to let your wife have the house, the boat and her fair share of all other marital assets, the one thing you want to hold on to is your consulting practice. You spent endless hours building your business from the ground up and the last thing you want to do is watch your business fail because of your divorce. Fortunately, there a few things you can do to prepare your practice. Read further for some tips to protect your business from divorce.

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