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Property division can bring unwelcome surprises

Many divorces in Illinois are amicable, with former spouses maintaining friendly relationships as they move forward with their lives. However, a case in another state shows that this desire to get along must not prevent each party from ensuring his or her interests are protected even after the divorce. This case involved a property division ruling by the court about the marital home.

The divorce decree stated that the husband could retain the home, but he had to refinance the mortgage and pay the wife her share of the equity. Before this could be done, the husband lost his job, the housing market crashed, and he could not obtain a new mortgage. Feeling sorry for her ex, the wife chose to wait for his circumstances to improve, and when it did, more than six years had passed.

She asked him to remortgage the house and pay her her share, but he refused. She filed a motion in court to hold her ex in contempt for failing to comply with the divorce order. To her shock, based on the laws in that state, the motion was denied due to a six-year statute of limitations on a divorce decree.

While the laws are different in Illinois, this case might serve as a warning for divorced spouses to not jeopardize their own interests in favor of an ex-spouse who might be less accommodating. What the woman, in this case, should have done was to get her attorney to renew the divorce decree before the six-year statute of limitations expired. In Illinois, an experienced divorce attorney can provide the support and guidance needed to successfully navigate divorce proceedings on behalf of a client.

Source:, "Divorced but not paid off; time is not on your side", Michael G. Millward, April 16, 2018

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