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Wheaton asset division attorney for financial restraining ordersYou have worked hard for the assets you own, so it is understandable that you would want to protect those assets from being misused or wasted. Protecting property during divorce is something that many spouses do not think about until it is too late. Although remedies are available for spouses who have suffered financial harm due to the other spouse’s financial recklessness during divorce, preventing wasteful spending is a better strategy than mitigating it after the fact. One way to protect funds and other property during divorce is to get a financial restraining order.

Stop Wasteful Spending or Intentional Destruction of Property

As most divorced people can tell you, the process of ending a marriage can sometimes bring out the worst side of people. If you are getting divorced, you may have concerns about your spouse’s financial decisions. You may be worried that he or she will carelessly spend money, sell property to finance an addiction, or otherwise make ill-informed financial decisions. You may even worry that your spouse will destroy your property or intentionally waste money to “get back at you.” A financial restraining order can help prevent this from happening.

A Temporary Financial Restraining Order Can Protect Your Assets

When most people hear “restraining order” they assume that the order is intended to prevent domestic violence or stalking. However, a financial restraining order has nothing to do with physical abuse. A temporary financial restraining order is used to prevent spouses from reckless spending or wasting marital assets during divorce. When spouses are subject to a temporary restraining order, they are prohibited from transferring, hiding, borrowing against assets, or otherwise disposing of property outside of typical financial transactions needed for everyday life. A financial restraining order will not prevent spouses from buying groceries or paying their bills, but it can prevent them from making large, unusual purchases, selling marital assets, or making other atypical financial decisions.

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Naperville divorce lawyerFor many people, pets are more than property, they are part of the family. However, pet ownership falls under the umbrella of property division during divorce. The division of marital assets and debts is often one of the most consequential aspects of the divorce process. Divorcing couples often disagree about the value of property and debt and who should keep certain properties. If you have dogs, cats, horses, birds, or other pets, you may have questions about how pet ownership is decided in an Illinois divorce.

Negotiating an Agreement With Your Spouse

Divorcing couples may be able to reach their own agreement about how to allocate pets and other property without taking their case to court. Although it can be very difficult to reach an agreement with a soon-to-be-ex-spouse, it is possible. Many couples eventually reach a settlement about how to divide property through attorney-led negotiations. Others turn to mediation or collaborative law. Often, one spouse retains ownership of pets while the other spouse is assigned an equitable share of different marital assets. Other times, couples choose to share ownership of pets similarly to how parents share custody of children.

Taking Your Case To Trial

The majority of Illinois divorce cases are resolved via settlement. However, there are some cases in which a couple simply cannot agree on a property division arrangement. If you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement through negotiations or alternative resolution methods like mediation and collaborative law, your case may go to trial. For years, Illinois courts treated dogs, cats, and other family pets exactly the same as other assets. If the pet was acquired by a spouse before the marriage took place, the pet may be classified as separate property and assigned to the original owner. If the pet was acquired after the marriage, the animal was subject to the same equitable distribution laws as other assets.

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Naperville divorce attorneysA fair divorce settlement or judgment is only possible if both parties are honest and forthcoming about their assets, income, business revenue, debt, and other financial information. However, some spouses intentionally hide assets in an effort to make their financial situation look worse than it actually is. They may do this in an attempt to avoid splitting the value of the assets during property division, to pay less in child support, or to lessen their spousal maintenance obligation. If you suspect that your spouse will try to hide assets or otherwise lie about finances during your divorce, speak to a skilled divorce lawyer as soon as possible.

Your Spouse Refuses to Give You Access to Financial Information

One sign that your spouse is currently hiding assets or is planning to lie about assets during your divorce is refusing to let you access financial documents. Most lawyers encourage spouses to gather financial documents like tax returns and bank statements when preparing to divorce. If your spouse is suddenly hesitant to let you view these documents or moves financial documents or computer files to a new location, this may be a sign that he or she is hiding something. If your spouse reroutes mail like bank statements to a new address or P.O. box, this may also be a sign that the documents contain information that he or she does not want you to see.  

Property Goes Missing or Your Spouse “Loans” Money to a Friend

Another way that spouse may hide assets is to sell or “give away” money or property to another individual. Spouses sometimes sell or give away property in an effort to reduce their net worth prior to a divorce. Often, a spouse gives property or money away temporarily and then recoups the property after the divorce is finalized. Spouses may accomplish the same goal by intentionally overpaying the IRS. By paying more taxes that he or she actually owes, he or she temporarily lowers his or her financial resources. The spouse recovers the money after the divorce when the IRS issues a tax refund.

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DuPage County divorce attorneysDuring a divorce, you and your spouse will—through negotiation, mediation, or litigation—decide how your assets should be allocated between you. Before you can make this decision, appraisers must determine the value of the properties in question. Since there is no exact method for doing this, appraisers choose from a handful of acceptable techniques. The valuation process plays a significant role in determining how you push for your fair share during a divorce. Dividing marital assets is only part of a divorce, and you will need excellent legal counsel to effectively move through the process.

Methods of Appraising Property Values in Illinois

When determining the value of real estate, appraisers usually use one of the following three options, or a combination of the three, to reach an appropriate result:

Cost Approach

When using the cost approach, real estate appraisers try to judge an accurate value for a property by measuring what it would cost to build a reproduction or replacement for any improvements done to that property and subtract whatever depreciation may be evident. When these values are paired with the land's estimated value, an appraiser may reach an accurate valuation. 

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DuPage County divorce attorney QDRO

A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is necessary when dividing retirement savings. Without it, the payee can be subject to tax penalties, and there is no guarantee that an employer or retirement plan provider will adhere to your divorce decree alone. Because QDROs are necessary so often, most retirement plan providers have standard forms to help you and your attorney create a draft. If you suspect that the division of retirement assets will be complicated, you can still draft your own QDRO. Either way, it is worth understanding some common mistakes people make when creating QDROs and how you can avoid them. Regardless of your situation, you should work with a reputable divorce attorney you trust to ensure that your financial interests are protected.

Typical QDRO Errors

Even though many retirement plan providers have boilerplate forms for you and your attorney to use as a reference when drafting your QDRO, there are still several common mistakes that you should avoid:

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