Common Divorce Myths

Determining fact versus myth

Myth One: “The house/bank account/stock is in my name, so I will get it in the divorce”
Reality: The court divides property in just proportions at time of dissolution, without regard to which spouse holds title, unless the property is classified as non-marital (purchased before the marriage, gift or inheritance).

Myth Two: “My spouse had an affair that caused our marriage to end, so I will get more of the property”
Reality: The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act requires that property be divided without regard to fault. It does not matter who “caused” the divorce or who filed the divorce first. Any property accumulated during the marriage must be divided equitably.

Myth Three: “I worked as a police officer/construction worker/teacher for 20 years, so my pension is mine and my spouse gets nothing from the retirement account.”
Reality: Any portion of a pension, 401(k) or other retirement account earned during the marriage is marital property and will be divided equitably by the court.

Myth Four: “My spouse is a spendthrift, buying things for the kids and the house that we don’t need. He/she should be responsible for all the credit cards bills. The bills are in her name anyway.”
Reality: Any debts accumulated during the marriage will be apportioned equitably between the parties, regardless of who made the purchases or the name on the credit card. Debts are presumed to be marital debts unless dissipation can be shown. Dissipation is spending money for purposed unrelated to the marriage, after the marriage has irretrievably broken down. For example, spending money for gifts to a girl friend or traveling with a paramour would not be marital debts.

Myth Five: “My wife said that she will move the children to California once the divorce is over so that I won’t get to see them anymore”
Reality: Your spouse must petition the court to allow her to move out of state. As part of her petition she must show that removal of the children from Illinois would be in their best interest. For example that she has a job offer in California that will pay more money that she makes now, but will give her more time with the children. She would also have to provide regular visitation for you with the children, in Illinois, at her expense. This can often mean that the children will spend much of their school vacation time with the non-moving parent.

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