Any divorce has the potential to be a complex process, regardless of how amicable or contentious the parties are. One of the leading factors in complicating a divorce is the division of assets in a manner the court deems fair. When one spouse or both have a significant portfolio of assets and a high net worth, the determination of who receives what or how to split up the value is no simple matter.
A Will County divorce for couples with high net worth demands the attention of an experienced high-value divorce attorney. Having quality legal counsel can significantly reduce the stress and frustration of the asset division negotiations. At Vahey & Betouni Law & Mediation, we are committed to fighting for fairness throughout your divorce while attempting to make the process as smooth as possible.
The attorneys at Vahey & Betouni Law & Mediation have been practicing family law in Illinois for more than a decade. Their wealth of experience navigating the intricacies of complex divorce cases is beneficial in high-value divorces.
Each state has its own varying statutes for how property is divided during divorces. Having a talented attorney you can trust makes a big difference in your divorce experience. Vahey & Betouni Law & Mediation is a women-owned firm that takes pride in being innovative, responsive, and strategic while handling even the most contentious family law cases.
Communal property in Illinois is defined as any assets either spouse acquired during the marriage. Property owned by either party in the divorce prior to the marriage is excluded from the communal property unless ownership was conveyed to the other spouse at some point during the marriage. Property acquired after divorce papers are served also falls outside the bounds of communal property.
There are possible exemptions in the case of inheritance where property bequeathed to only one spouse by a deceased relative is classified as spousal property and not communal property. The inherited property would not be subject to division under this exclusion. Illinois family law statutes don’t guarantee all inheritance-related assets will be exempted from the communal property, so if there are assets from an inheritance you wish to exclude, it should be discussed with your attorney as early as possible.
Each spouse is required to supply a full listing of assets to the court prior to the division of assets. Comprehensive financial reports are necessary to make sure all communal property is accounted for. The time and effort involved in compiling the reports can be substantial in a high net worth divorce, especially if documentation has been lost over time or the divorce involves complex investments like real estate, stocks, a business, or cryptocurrency. A skilled divorce attorney can assist with identifying avenues to acquire missing records and make sure all of the necessary property has been disclosed.
If you are concerned your spouse may be hiding assets, it’s all the more important to make sure your attorney has the skills and knowledge to track those assets down. Expert witness testimony can be used to force the disclosure of assets that may have been withheld initially through oversight or intentional obstruction. Likewise, it’s important not to try to deceive your spouse.
It’s natural to have trepidation over how a divorce will impact your assets, but adding additional malice to an already contentious situation serves nobody’s best interests. It isn’t ethical or legal to hide assets in an attempt to protect them from communal property division. The court can impose penalties like fines or even a charge of perjury on a party who takes illegal action to hide communal property from disclosure and division.
Another important aspect of needing all assets to be listed and out in the open for assessment is to determine the tax impacts. If real estate or business entities are changing hands as part of a high net worth divorce, local, state, and federal taxes become a consideration. Your attorney should have the experience to monitor the details of property division that could trigger adverse tax expenses.
One common question in a high-value divorce is whether one spouse can overspend funds or sell assets to friends or family to remove that property from the asset division. Once a divorce is initiated, those actions would be illegal and subject to punishment. The court issues a stay order on the communal property during divorces that forbids both spouses from spending or selling assets as a means of removing property from the division of assets.
In the instance that one spouse has considerable financial resources and the other has a large amount of personal debt from prior to the marriage, the indebted partner may try to use communal funds to settle those debts before the divorce. This also is forbidden. Communal property can only be used to satisfy communal debts during the divorce.
Your attorney can also offer advice on how to add extra layers of protection to assets by making temporary adjustments in ownership. This would be done to limit the other spouse from interfering with certain accounts while the court addresses dividing the assets.
Longer divorces mean higher costs for both parties, including legal fees and expenses like forensic accounting to reveal all relevant assets, expert business evaluators, and any other professional witnesses who may be needed to assess the communal property. The best way to mitigate these costs is to go through mediation instead of moving immediately to litigation.
Mediation involves the use of a skilled third-party mediator who serves as a neutral party to facilitate between the spouses and their respective attorneys. If mediation is successful, the couple can come up with an agreeable division of assets. This has several advantages compared to litigation:
Successful mediation tends to leave all parties in a more satisfied position than having the court make the decisions. Attempting mediation and failing to come to an agreement doesn’t take litigation off the table. If mediation efforts are at an impasse, the asset division can still be decided in front of a judge.
If you’re getting divorced in Will County, the communal assets of the marriage are divided under the guidelines of being equitable. As an equitable distribution state, Illinois tasks its family courts with determining how the financial contributions and labor each spouse has given to an asset compare with each other and awarding the division of property accordingly. Your high-value divorce lawyer will present the case for the judge to consider such factors as the length of the marriage, each spouse’s income, the future earning potential of each spouse, and what each spouse contributed toward the marriage.
Alimony in Illinois is determined by income. Couples earning a combined income of less than $250,000 per year are subject to a strict formula that the court applies to determine the appropriate payment. Couples earning greater than $250,000 per year have alimony determinations made as the court sees fit, with family court judges allowed discretion to determine what is appropriate.
While net worth is not technically the determining factor in how alimony is decided, a high-value divorce is typically going to land in the latter category and be determined at the judge’s discretion.
While it is your right to represent yourself if you choose, it is not advised for any divorce, let alone one with high-value assets, to be divided. Divorce cases are a full-time job for attorneys to handle. To take that work on yourself can significantly increase the stress and anxiety the divorce may already be causing.
Even divorce attorneys who get divorced themselves will often hire another divorce attorney to oversee their case. Having professional legal counsel eases some of the burdens of the hard work that takes place preparing a divorce case, and it also provides you with legal counsel that isn’t affected by the emotions of the marriage ending.
A high net worth divorce will often require the professional services of accountants and evaluators to determine the value of everything from real estate to jewelry. Hiring an attorney with the connections and resources to efficiently bring those experts together is a benefit you should not forgo.
Protecting your assets during a divorce is Vahey & Betouni Law & Mediation’s specialty. Let us get your assets fully accounted for and properly represented, so you keep what you deserve. We handle divorce cases for clients in a variety of financial dispositions and have the resources and expertise for your high-net-worth divorce. Contact us today to schedule a confidential consultation.