Archive for September, 2013

Property Division Rules in Illinois Divorces

September 30th, 2013 at 11:21 am

Illinois has very specific property division laws.  The judges will follow these laws when dividing assets in a divorce, even if it results might seem unfair to one of the parties.  The goal of the court is to enter an order that “equitably” (or fairly) divides the marital property.  However, before doing this, the court must first determine which property is “marital” and which property is “nonmarital”.

RIgsIn Illinois, the courts will normally only divide the marital property between the parties.  Section 503 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act defines what constitutes marital property.  The general rule is that property acquired by either spouse subsequent to the marriage is marital, and property acquired by a spouse prior to the marriage is that spouse’s nonmarital property – but there are plenty of exceptions to this general rule!  For instance, property that a spouse receives during the marriage might still be considered “nonmarital” if it was acquired as a gift or as an inheritance to that spouse.  It is important to note that property can be “marital” and subject to division by the court even if it is titled in only one spouse’s name.

The statutes and the mountain of case-law that lawyers and judges use for determining what is nonmarital, what is marital, and what factors to look at when deciding how to equitably divide the marital property are very complex.  Some of those factors include the length of the marriage, each party’s contribution to the marital estate, the economic circumstances of the parties, and whether one of the parties was responsible for any “dissipation” (spending or wasting marital property for a non-marital purpose).

Property division in a divorce case can be a hotly contested issue, in which case, a party should have an experienced Illinois family law attorney on their side to provide counsel and to represent his or her interests in court.

Choosing Cohabitation Over Remarriage

September 25th, 2013 at 10:43 am

Choosing Cohabitation Over Remarriage IMAGEFewer Americans are opting to remarry after a divorce, according to a recent analysis by Bowling Green State University and reported upon in the Huffington Post. “The findings,” reports the Huffington Post, “showed that a mere 29 of every 1,000 divorced or widowed Americans remarried in 2011. Back in 1990, 50 of every 1,000 divorced or widowed Americans had married again.” Concurrent with this is the fact that the percentage of recent marriages in which one or both people is remarrying has been steadily declining in recent years. According to a 2006 Census Bureau publication, in 1996, 43.4 percent of all marriages within the past year involved a person who was remarrying. In 2001, that percentage had dropped to 37.8; in 2004, it had dropped to 35.9 percent.

One reason for this decline could simply be a skewing of demographics: with a substantial increase in the population of the elderly due to the ageing of the Baby Boomer generation, there are likely to be more widows who are old enough that they don’t remarry. Because women live longer, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, they are more likely to be widowed than men—three times as likely, in fact. According to Census Bureau statistics, 48 percent of elderly women are widowed, as opposed to 14 percent of elderly men. There are not statistics available as to how many elderly widows are remarrying.

And yet sociologist Susan Brown told the Huffington Post that “the rising number of couples opting for cohabitation could be the reason” as well. According to 2012 Census data and reported by the Huffington Post, “the number of unmarried couples living together has more than doubled since the 1990s, from 2.9 million in 1996 to 7.8 million in 2012.” This is due in part to a shift in cultural attitude toward unmarried couples living together—what used to be considered “living in sin” is now more often thought of as a viable and financially-sound alternative to marriage. According to the USA Today and data from the Census Bureau, 7.8 million unmarried couples were living together in 2012. “Between 1990 and 2012,” reports USA Today, “the percentage of unmarried couples living together more than doubled, from 5.1 percent to 11.3 percent.”

Unmarried people looking to cohabit can still establish legally binding ground rules for living together and can spell out their respective financial obligations for covering rent, mortgage payments, utilities, and other day-to-day living expenses by entering into a written cohabitation agreement prepared by an attorney experienced in family law matters.

If you or someone you know is considering cohabitation, divorce, or remarriage, it could be worth sitting down with a qualified professional. Contact a dedicated Chicago-area family law attorney today.