is emotionally and financially devastating. But, with 40-50% of all marriages ending in divorce it is important that everyone has some knowledge about how a divorce works and how to protect oneself during a divorce. I find that most people are scared of those things with which they are unfamiliar. Knowledge is empowerment. The following are several misconceptions of which one should be aware.
MYTH - If I leave my house, I am giving up my right to any share of the equity in the home. In essence, I am abandoning my house.
FACT - As a general rule, anything purchased during the marriage is marital property, anything owned by either party prior to the marriage is non-marital property. The court must equitably allocate property at the time of the divorce, regardless of who is currently possessing the item. Therefore, if the home was purchased during the marriage, regardless of title and possession, you are entitled to an equitable share of the same. You cannot abandon
the equity in a residence merely by moving out.
MYTH - I stayed home during the course of our marriage to raise my children. Because I contributed less financially to the marriage, I can expect less than 50% of the assets from the marriage.
FACT - The very opposite may be true. Your contribution to the family was the fact that you had a full time job, which was raising your family. At the time of the divorce, the court must consider certain factors, including your contribution to raising the children. If you sacrificed your career by staying home, you should be compensated for the same by either receiving a greater share of the marital property (more than 50%) or by your spouse paying maintenance (what is formerly known as alimony).
MYTH - I purchased a car or a house, or obtained debt, in my name alone during the marriage; therefore, it is mine alone.
FACT - As stated earlier, anything obtained during the marriage is marital property, regardless of the name on the title, deed or bill. Therefore, it must be split equitably between you and your spouse. There are certain exceptions to this rule, however, such as if your spouse acquired debt for something unrelated to the marriage, such as a gift to another person or to fund an addition such as drugs or gambling.
MYTH - I cannot move from the home with our children.
FACT - While you and your spouse are still married, you each have 100% rights to your children. You may leave the home and retain your children. However, beware that if you leave the home with your children with the intention of putting them in a new school in the middle of the year, there may be issues. If your spouse subsequently files a motion to have the children returned home, that spouse may be successful. The court may find that the best interest of the children is stability, and by staying in their home and school district, that stability will be best achieved.
MYTH - I, or my spouse, cannot leave the state of Illinois with my children for vacation.
FACT - Either spouse may leave the State of Illinois with their children, as long as the other person has an address and phone number where they can be reached in an emergency. However, note that neither spouse may permanently remove the minor children from the State of Illinois without consent of the other parent or the court.
MYTH - If I divorce my spouse and am awarded maintenance (alimony) the courts can guarantee that I will receive it.
FACT - Less than 15% of all spouses are awarded alimony, and out of those 34% never receive it.
MYTH - If my spouse is awarded all the debt from the marriage, the credit card companies cannot try to collect from me.
FACT - The credit card was not a party to the agreement between you and your spouse, and therefore, may attempt to collect from either or both. If the credit card company is successful in having you satisfy a debt that was awarded to your spouse in the divorce decree, you may then sue your ex-spouse to obtain that money you paid out.
The Law Office of Marjorie Sher, P.C.
415 W. Washington Street, Suite 201
Waukegan, IL 60085
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