Pesce Law Group, P.C.


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Property Valuation and Distribution Attorneys in DuPage County

Naperville, IL Property Valuation Lawyers

Contrary to popular myth, divorce property valuation is an intense exercise. For example, a home's tax appraisal value may be markedly different from its actual resale value. In a similar vein, an antique project car may be either virtually worthless or almost priceless, depending on your point of view.

Valuation is only part of the exercise. Illinois law dictates that marital property be divided "equitably," which is not necessarily the same thing as "equally." In other words, the divorce should not be an undue financial hardship on either spouse.

At Pesce Law Group, P.C., we quickly pinpoint the important legal issues then take prompt and sustained action to protect your short and long-term interests. If necessary, we can partner with a financial professional to assist in the valuation and distribution process.

Determining Value

Dissipation, or waste, is an often-overlooked valuation provision in Section 503 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. If dissipation occurred, an asset's divorce value may be substantially higher than its market value. For example, a spouse may not have performed upkeep on a rental property, and its value may have dropped as a result.

It is extremely imperative to consider both debt and assets when dividing the marital estate. The two sides may sometimes arrange for an offset; one party agrees to pay more debt in exchange for a larger share of the assets. The parties should be wary of title and ownership issues, because although a divorce decree transfers legal title, it does not affect the underlying security agreement.

Distributing Property

In addition to dissipation, a judge may consider the following factors when dividing the marital estate:

  • Economic and non-economic circumstances and contributions of each party,
  • Duration of the marriage,
  • Value of property assigned to each spouse,
  • Any obligations from a prior marriage,
  • Agreements between the parties,
  • Age, health, and status of each spouse,
  • Spousal maintenance and child custody provisions, and
  • Future tax consequences.

The judge also has the authority to consider any other relevant factors, aside from fault in the breakup of the marriage, when making a distribution.

As a general rule, most judges honor agreements between the spouses as long as they are not manifestly unconscionable in either their terms or their execution. If the parties cannot agree, especially regarding fixed assets such as a house or car, the judge often orders that the asset be sold and the proceeds divided on an equitable basis.

The judge will enter a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) to divide a pension plan, IRA, 401(k), or any similar retirement account. The non-employee or non-contributing spouse (commonly referred to as the "alternate payee") may generally elect to receive either cash in a lump sum or a share of future payments. Taxes, and possibly penalties, may apply to an early cash distribution.

For a free consultation with attorneys who understand how to zealously advocate for you and structure a property settlement that is fair enough to withstand judicial scrutiny, contact Pesce Law Group, P.C. at 630-352-2240 today.

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