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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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DuPage County divorce attorney dissipation of assets

Property division is often one of the most consequential aspects of divorce – especially for high-net-worth individuals. Some divorcing spouses reduce the value of the marital estate through excessive or careless spending or even intentionally destroying assets. This is referred to as the “dissipation of assets.” When a spouse spends money or property on a purpose not related to the marriage immediately prior to divorce, the other spouse may be entitled to compensation for the dissipated assets. Through a dissipation claim, you may be able to recover the value of assets your soon-to-be ex-spouse spent on extravagant vacations, gifts, or other unnecessary purchases.

Illinois Law Regarding Dissipation of Assets

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) contains a provision defining dissipation and addressing how wasted or destroyed assets should be handled in a divorce. Dissipative spending is excessive spending that does not benefit the marriage in any way. So, spending money on groceries, home repairs, or other necessary, reasonable expenses would not qualify as dissipation. Examples of dissipation may include:

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Oak Brook divorce lawyerThe division of assets is a central component of divorce. Before you can make a settlement with your spouse, both of you and your attorneys will have to go through the discovery process. Discovery is a pre-trial stage of a divorce where both parties investigate and request evidence from the other party, including financial records. A married couple’s finances can get complicated, and couples are frequently unaware of the scope of their partner’s assets. To reach a fair conclusion, no financial information should be withheld from either party. Attorneys rely on several strategies to unveil the information they need to make adequate demands for their clients. We will detail some of the most commonly requested discovery tactics below. As you are preparing for a divorce, ensure that you have the help of an experienced and dedicated divorce attorney who will leave no stone unturned during the discovery process.

Common Discovery Tactics

During discovery, attorneys rely on the following to get the information they need before trial:

  • Deposition: A deposition is an attorney’s chance to ask your spouse or a relevant third-party witness for information. Witnesses take an oath before answering an attorney’s questions. If your spouse or any other witness tries to conceal information or lie in court, your attorney can use the written or taped testimony obtained during a deposition to impeach that witness. There are two types of depositions used in Illinois divorces, discovery deposition, and trial deposition. In discovery deposition, an attorney asks a witness a series of questions to reveal as much information as possible. However, attorneys only use discovery deposition to disclose some information and test how a witness will testify in court. In a trial deposition, attorneys approach their line of reasoning as they would in a trial and use evidence or other witness’ testimony to exhaust their line of questioning.
  • Requests to Produce Documents: Attorneys can submit a request to produce documents that will require the other party to offer the requested documents within 28 days.
  • Subpoena Duces Tecum: If your attorney suspects that your spouse and his or her attorney are withholding information, he or she can direct a subpoena to a third party, requiring them to produce the information you need, such as a bank or lender.
  • Written Interrogatories: Your attorney prepares written questions regarding your case that responding parties must answer within 28 days.

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Attorney

It is imperative that you prepare for your divorce proceedings with the assistance of experienced legal counsel to ensure your rights are protected throughout the process. An accomplished Naperville, IL divorce lawyer who will aggressively fight for your fair share of assets during a divorce. Schedule a free consultation with Pesce Law Group, P.C., by calling us today at 630-352-2240. 

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