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Abandoned Property and Divorce

Posted on in Division of Property

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In a divorce proceeding, absent agreement of the parties, it is the Court's job to make an equitable division of the parties' marital property.  Often, disputes that arise during the course of divorce proceedings center upon what is "equitable," but before a Court can determine how to fairly divide the parties' property between them it must first know what property the parties possess.  There are a number of processes by which attorneys attempt to gather information and evidence about what property is owned by the parties.  The results often show automobiles, real estate, and less tangible property such as bank accounts, mutual funds, or other investment-related assets.  The tangibility of the assets does not affect the Court's ability to divide them, but what happens when the parties no longer possesses those assets?  If a party has given property away or has sold it for less than market value it may lead to claims of dissipation of assets, but sometimes neither party is the one who has given the property away.  Bank or other investment accounts can be presumed "abandoned", at which time the law requires the business holding the account to turn over that property to the Illinois State Treasurer.  The presumption arises after a period of inactivity by the account holder, the length of which varies depending on the type of property but generally is about five years.  So if the parties haven't touched an old bank account in years, those funds may no longer be where everyone thinks they are.  Luckily, one can easily check online to determine if the State of Illinois may be holding his or her abandoned property by going to the web address icash.illinois.gov.  If a claim is filed by either party and the State approves the return of the property, the "unclaimed" account or property can be added back into the marital estate and is then subjec

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