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naperville divorce lawyer Property division during divorce proceedings can be contentious and complex. Illinois law recognizes inherited assets as non-marital property. However, identifying the initial inherited asset can be difficult once an inheritance inadvertently or purposely is mixed with marital property. Commingling and transmutation can make property classification and division much more complicated during divorce. 

Two Ways Non-Marital Inheritance Becomes Marital Property

Illinois law states that inheritance is non-marital property. The spouse who received the inheritance is the sole owner of the inheritance assets. However, inheritance can become marital property through commingling and transmutation.

  • Commingling – Mixing inherited assets with marital property is considered commingling. If a spouse can prove the commingling of assets was intended for temporary convenience and can still identify the inherited asset, the inheritance may remain non-marital. However, if the inherited property is no longer identifiable, it may be considered marital property. For instance, if a spouse deposits inherited money into a joint spousal account, this commingling converts the inheritance to marital property.
  • Transmutation – This occurs when there is a deliberate intent to use the inheritance as marital property. Transmutation also always changes the commingled property’s status to marital once the asset is no longer identifiable. If an inherited house becomes the family home, the inheritance has changed from non-marital property to marital. Shared upgrades to the inherited home will further solidify the inheritance as marital property and will likely be divided equitably between the spouses during divorce. Another example of transmutation is including a spouse on the deed of an inherited family business.

Three Ways to Protect Inheritance

Spouses who want to protect their inheritance should take the necessary steps to ensure inheritance assets remain non-marital. There are several ways to do this, including”

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1901549803.jpgPublic Act 99-90 (SB 57) amended the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act and related statutes, eliminating fault-based divorce. Effective January 1, 2016, Illinois became a no-fault state, meaning that a spouse cannot be blamed for a divorce even if the spouse committed infidelity or mental abuse. A no-fault divorce denotes an irretrievably broken marriage. As opposed to at-fault divorces, no-fault grounds allege irreconcilable differences, which may diminish the emotional strife related to the dissolution of a family.

Illinois divorces are either contested or uncontested. When spouses who cannot agree on one or more divorce issues, this is called a contested divorce. Iin an uncontested divorce, both spouses agree on the divorce terms. Obliviously, divorces without disputes are cost-effective because, unlike a contested divorce, an uncontested divorce can promptly proceed. Unfortunately, agreement on all issues is not always possible. 

Six Procedures in a Contested Divorce

High net-worth or complex contested divorces often necessitate expert witnesses, such as a financial advisor or a forensic accountant. Contested divorces will typically undergo the following steps:

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dupage county divorce lawyer Collaborative Law is a newer and growing Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) model that avoids litigation. Divorce lawyers of both parties agree to resolve divorce issues out of the courtroom. Unlike traditional divorce proceedings, a collaborative divorce removes the litigation battle's emotionally and financially taxing threat. These legal process advocates for an amicable, respectful, and dignified divorce proceeding.

How Collaborative Divorce Law Works

Collaborative law divorce attorneys are specially trained in practicing this type of dispute resolution. The contesting parties must be willing to participate in the collaborative divorce law process. After each party retains a collaborative law lawyer, they voluntarily sign a participation agreement that obligates them to follow the collaborative divorce law procedure. Collaborative law values problem-solving and promotes a fair and thoughtful settlement. Financial experts, a divorce coach, therapists, and other specialists might be hired to help facilitate a satisfying divorce decree.

Collaborative divorce law accommodates both parties, focusing on the needs and best interests of the children and entire family. This type of divorce remains private.  Each party cooperates and participates in establishing their own agreements. When a settlement is agreed upon, the collaborative law attorneys compose the agreements and present them to the judge for finalization. 

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naperville divorce lawyerDuring these unprecedented times, nothing is certain. Divorce is surging in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, the pandemic instigated an increase in divorce, with an uptick of 21 percent from 2020. Along with health anxieties, many other stressors caused couples to contemplate divorce. Almost 10 million Americans lost employment, and parents who could work virtually faced additional challenges of overseeing their children’s remote learning and child care. Confinement with a spouse for several months can also trigger irritability and frustration. Loneliness from the isolation of friends, relatives, coworkers, and social activities affected children and adults alike.

The quarantine exposed underlying marital problems for many spouses, provoking some to rethink their future. A divorce attorney can help facilitate an amicable solution.

How to Prepare for Financial Matters in Your Divorce

One of the most important parts of the divorce process is addressing marital and non-marital property and debt. Ideally, spouses will find a property division arrangement that maintains the quality of life they are accustomed to. If a spouse refuses to provide full and accurate financial information, the divorce attorney will also search for any property hidden by the other spouse. If either party was furloughed or laid off during the pandemic, this may also impact property division and other matters in the divorce case. 

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Naperville older divorce lawyerStudies suggest that although the overall divorce rate has stabilized in America, divorce for couples over 50 has continued to rise. Many couples wait to get divorced until their children are adults, and, coupled with other life-changing events like retirement and major illnesses that happen later in life, perhaps these statistics are not surprising. 

While divorcing couples with adult children can dodge some complex issues like custody and visitation, they still confront the daunting task of telling their children about the divorce. Adults are still deeply affected by parental divorce, and may feel anger, fear of abandonment, resentment, and more. And because adult children are old enough to understand the implications of divorce and the complexities of relationships, their questions are likely to be more pointed and will require more comprehensive answers than those of a young child. If you are getting divorced in Illinois and have adult children, here are some tips for breaking the news. 

Tell Your Children in Person 

The initial conversation about divorce can be incredibly difficult for everyone and experts recommend trying to avoid having this conversation over the phone. While your children may be adults, you are still their parent, and you need to be judicious about the information you share and how you share it. To some extent, your job as a parent is still to protect your children; they are not responsible for your divorce but will still be stuck dealing with many of the consequences. 

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