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DuPage County family law attorneysIn television shows and movies, divorce is often portrayed as a highly-combative legal process involving more accusation and confrontation than actual problem solving. In reality, a successful divorce settlement that both parties can agree to can often be reached without the need for dramatic courtroom litigation – even when the couple disagrees about the terms of their divorce. If you are planning to divorce and you and your spouse do not agree about property distribution, parental responsibilities, or other divorce-related matters, one option that may help you reach an agreement is collaborative divorce.

Finding Creative Solutions to Divorce Disputes

Litigation can be expensive and stressful. Many individuals getting a divorce wish to resolve conflicts without adversarial court proceedings but still want a legal advocate on their side who will look out for their best interests. One way to accomplish this is through collaborative family law. In a collaborative divorce, each spouse and his or her lawyer work together to reach resolutions about family law issues in a professional and cooperative way. The parties and their lawyers will sign a “collaborative agreement” or “participation agreement” that states that all signatories will commit to finding a fair, workable divorce settlement and will abstain from bringing the case to litigation. This agreement may require the spouses and their attorneys to agree to provisions such as:

  • The parties agree to settle disputes in a non-adversarial manner through negotiation and constructive dialogue
  • The parties agree to fully disclose relevant financial information
  • The parties will act in their child’s best interests

In a collaborative divorce, your attorney will protect your rights while simultaneously facilitating productive discussion and negotiation about divorce issues with the other participants. The process may also include collaborating with other professionals such as accountants or child specialists. If an agreement about the disputed divorce issues is reached, the agreement is transcribed into legally enforceable documents which are then filed with the court.

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DuPage County divorce attorneysMoney-related concerns are often one of the most crucial aspects of a divorce. In Illinois, property is distributed according to equitable distribution laws. Instead of the marital estate being divided exactly 50/50, Illinois courts consider a wide variety of factors and then divide marital property fairly based on the spouses’ economic and life circumstances. However, when the court does not have accurate financial information from a spouse, the divorce settlement may not be equitable. There are many warning signs of financial fraud during divorce that could mean your spouse is attempting to manipulate the divorce process to gain an unfair advantage.

What is Financial Fraud?

A spouse commits financial fraud when he or she does not fully and accurately disclose financial information like assets, income, and debts for the purposes of asset division, child support, and/or spousal maintenance during divorce. One of the most common forms of financial fraud occurs when a spouse hides assets or sources of income. For example, a spouse may “forget” to declare a piece of real estate he or she owns or fail to report all revenue streams. He or she may have hidden funds in an offshore account or use his or her business to conceal assets. Some spouses will also try to manipulate the divorce settlement in his or her favor by fraudulently overstating debts and expenses.

Warning Signs that a Spouse is Lying About Financial Information

In many marriages, one spouse manages the couple’s finances and takes care of paying the bills with little input from the other spouse. It can be especially easy for a spouse to commit financial fraud in a situation like this. Indications that your spouse may be lying about finances include but are not limited to:

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Wheaton divorce attorneysWhen you got married, did you and your new spouse move into a home that one of you already owned or did you find a new house? Have you purchased a new home since your marriage?  The answers to those two questions could directly impact the division of property process should you and your spouse ever divorce.

Prior Ownership

According to the law in Illinois, all assets that were owned by either spouse prior to the marriage and which were not subsequently placed into some form of joint ownership, are generally considered an individual’s non-marital property, not subject to division upon divorce. Determining ownership is fairly easy for smaller items. For example, you bought a washing machine before the marriage, it is non-marital. Larger purchases and investments can be a bit more complicated. If you and your spouse moved into a home that you had already paid off at the time of the marriage, the house, in all likelihood, would be considered non-marital property. If, however, you were still paying the house off for the first several years of the marriage and made some major improvements, the funds used to pay off the mortgage and make the improvements were marital funds. Thus, these marital funds used to improve and pay off the mortgage on a non-marital asset should be accounted for during the division of property.

Name on the Deed

Assume that five years into your marriage, you and your spouse purchase a new home. For credit or business reasons, your spouse—with your permission—puts only his or her name on the deed. The mortgage is in his or her name, along with all other legal documentation. Do you stand to lose out in the event of divorce?  No, you do not. Under Illinois law, it makes little difference whose name is on a particular note or title. If the purchase was made with marital funds—as in, you and your spouse’s biweekly paychecks being used to make mortgage payments—the house is part of the marital estate.

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Wheaton divorce attorneysWhen you are deeply in love with your spouse, it can be nearly impossible to imagine that your spouse would ever do anything to hurt you, let alone cheat on you. To be fair, episodes of infidelity are rarely the result of a person intentionally looking to cause pain for their spouse or committed romantic partner. In many cases, in fact, unfaithfulness is often the manifestation of much deeper problems in the relationship, including a lack of communication, feelings of isolation, and discontent with one another. Infidelity, however, may be the last straw that leads the offended spouse to file for divorce, often with the expectation that such behavior may afford him or her additional considerations in the divorce process.

Limited Legal Impact

It is completely understandable that a spouse whose partner is guilty of infidelity would feel betrayed and angry and would wish to hold the cheating party accountable for his or her behavior. If you ever found yourself in that type of situation, it would only seem fair for your spouse to be responsible for breaking up your marriage in that way. Unless you and your spouse negotiated an infidelity clause in a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, however, you are most likely going to be out of luck, at least as far the law is concerned.

Infidelity, along with all other negative or destructive behaviors like mental or physical cruelty or abandonment, can no longer be used as official grounds for divorce in Illinois. Recent changes to the law provide that all divorces in the state are to be granted on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, regardless of what may have occurred during the marriage. The law also prohibits a divorce judge from considering a spouse’s “misconduct” when dividing marital property or deciding whether to award spousal maintenance (alimony).

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Wheaton divorce attorneysThe National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that approximately 19.7 million adults in the U.S had a substance abuse disorder in 2017. Millions of other individuals struggle with other types of addictions such as gambling addiction or compulsive shopping.

If you are considering ending your marriage through divorce and your spouse is an addict, you will likely face a more challenging divorce than most. There are certain things you should keep in mind when divorcing a person with a substance abuse or addiction issue so that you can protect yourself both emotionally and financially.

Gather Important Financial Documents

Getting divorced is the end of a romantic relationship but it is also the end of a financial relationship. If you plan to divorce, make sure you collect important financial records including:

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From our law office in Wheaton, IL the family law and civil litigation law attorneys of Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick and Mirabella, represent businesses and individual clients throughout the western suburbs of Chicago, Illinois including Wheaton, Naperville, Oak Brook, Glen Ellyn, Carol Stream, Lombard, Downers Grove, Burr Ridge, Lisle, Elmhurst, Oakbrook Terrace, Winfield, Woodridge, Warrenville and throughout DuPage, Kane and Kendall Counties.

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In honor of the passing of our founder, Joseph F. Mirabella, Jr., our offices are closed Friday, January 31, 2020.I Agree