Illinois is an equitable distribution state, which means that when a couple divorces, their assets and debts must be divided fairly. That doesn’t mean 50-50, though. Instead, equitable distribution means that property must be divided fairly between the two spouses.
How Are Assets Divided in a Divorce in Chicago?
Your attorney can help you better understand the equitable division of property – and, more specifically, the way your property will be divided in your case – once she has a clear picture of which property you brought into the marriage and which you acquired during the marriage. She also needs to look at the current and future earning capacity of each party.
Your lawyer will most likely encourage you to work out an agreement with your spouse about the division of your marital assets and debt; it’s usually the simplest (and most painless) method of property division. However, if you and your spouse cannot agree on your own, your attorney may suggest mediation or, as a last resort, litigation.
If you must litigate property division, the court will need a complete valuation of your assets before considering the following factors:
- Each spouse’s contribution to the acquisition of the property
- The duration of the marriage
- Each spouse’s financial circumstances
- Obligations or rights stemming from a prior marriage of either spouse
- A prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement, if one exists
- Each spouse’s age, health, employability, liabilities and needs
- Child custody agreements
- Tax consequences for each property
It’s also important to remember that fault has nothing to do with property division in the state of Illinois.
Whether or not your split is amicable, both parties must disclose all assets, liabilities and incomes. In some cases, such as when one party believes the other is hiding assets, this requires formal discovery. During formal discovery, each party has to turn over all records related to their assets, including:
- Bank accounts
- Investment accounts
- Retirement accounts
- Real estate
- Other assets not mentioned here
If you believe your spouse is hiding assets, it’s important that you let your attorney know immediately. She can initiate the formal discovery process to help uncover the truth.
Division of a Jointly Owned Business
When a business is involved in a divorce, the court needs to determine whether it is non-marital property or marital property. If one spouse owned it before the marriage, the court may determine that it’s non-marital property, but that’s not always the case. Your attorney can help you sort out the details, particularly when marital property (money) has been invested in the business.
Because Illinois is an equitable distribution state, both parties in a high-asset divorce have a lot at stake. The division of property – and the whole divorce process – has the potential for becoming extremely contentious. While your attorney may suggest mediation, sometimes litigation is necessary in a high-asset divorce. Typically, very detailed investigations are necessary to determine the value of all the marital property. This may involve hiring experts such as forensic accountants, wealth managers, valuators or vocational experts.
If you are involved in a high-asset divorce, it’s essential that you work with an attorney who’s familiar with the in-depth investigations, valuations and other processes necessary for equitable distribution.
Talk to an Experienced Attorney About Division of Assets Today
I can answer all your questions about property division, high-asset divorce and divorce involving businesses.
Call me at 312-818-5279 for a consultation. We’ll discuss your situation and I’ll start strategizing to get you the best possible outcome.