4 Things to Expect with High Net Worth Divorce in Metro East, IL

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Divorce on Friday, July 17, 2020.

Divorce is often a difficult issue to handle, even when a couple decides to separate on mutually agreeable grounds. No matter how two soon-to-be ex-spouses may feel about one another, the fact remains that divorce in the Metro East area requires negotiations concerning property division. The more property a married couple possesses, the more likely it is for divorce proceedings to become messy, complex affairs.

When a couple owns significant amounts of wealth and assets, their divorce will be a high net worth divorce in the eyes of the court and the legal teams involved in the matter. High net worth divorces traditionally included any divorce with more than $1 million in assets. Today, this is on the low end of high when it comes to net worth in divorce. If you own a significant amount of wealth and are preparing for divorce in the Metro East, IL area, it’s wise to have some idea of what to expect with your high net worth divorce proceedings.

You Must Hire an Attorney

It can be tempting in some cases to want to push through divorce proceedings as quickly as possible to simply be done with the issue, but this is rarely an advisable path. Accepting an early settlement offer could equate to an incredibly expensive decision in both the short term and long term. Hiring an attorney means you have an objective perspective of your situation. Your attorney can advise the best ways to approach your divorce proceedings.

Hiring an attorney means you will have an experienced and reliable legal advocate who can navigate the court system on your behalf more efficiently than you could on your own. Your attorney will also know how to approach the various assets involved in your case to help ensure the fairest and most equitable divorce possible.

Prepare for Intensive Financial Investigation

Illinois does not follow community property rules like many other states. Instead, Illinois courts prefer to rule in favor of an “equitable divorce.” This means the court will carefully review the property held by a divorcing couple and make several determinations about this property, dividing it in the most equitable way possible using the evidence available.

If you own significant assets such as large bank accounts, investment portfolios, real estate, vehicles, and other high-value items, you may wonder what, if anything, your spouse will take in the divorce. Illinois judges refer to many different criteria when it comes to dividing property for equitable division, including:

  • The court will use available evidence to determine each spouse’s level of contribution toward the assets in question.
  • If either spouse attempts to dissipate or hide any of the shared assets involved in their divorce, the court will look upon this very negatively and the party responsible for the dissipation will face significant penalties.
  • Financial research will be necessary to determine the actual value of the assets in question. Some assets appreciate over time, such as stock portfolios, others like cars depreciate over time, and others like real estate fluctuate over time based on several factors.
  • The court also considers the length of the marriage when making equitable division decisions. For example, a person could not marry a wealthy person and then immediately demand a divorce with the expectation of a massive payout from the wealthy spouse’s assets and holdings.
  • If either spouse is still paying child support or alimony for a previous marriage, this fact may also alter property division in a high net worth divorce.
  • The court will assess each spouse’s tax obligations when making property division decrees.
  • The court will also determine each spouse’s likely future earnings to make a fair and reasonable decree.

A good attorney will ensure thorough research is done into all the assets and property involved in a high net worth divorce. This may require matching updates of opened accounts and property acquisitions and establishing a timeline alongside the duration of the marriage.

Temper Your Expectations

It’s important to be as realistic as possible about your high net worth divorce. If your spouse contributed heavily to amassing the wealth you now enjoy, you should expect them to take a fair slice of this with them in the divorce. On the flip side, if you are confident that the facts support your ownership over the majority of the “shared” assets of your divorce, remaining cool, calm, and collected during your divorce proceedings strengthens your position.

Income Disparity and Spousal Support

One of the major points of contention that arises in many high net worth divorce cases is income disparity. If one spouse earns far more than the other, there is an argument to be made that the higher-earning spouse should retain ownership over the bulk of the couple’s shared property. If both spouses earn equivalent incomes, then it’s more likely for the court to rule in favor of splitting things more evenly.

It’s possible that your divorce decree will entail some kind of spousal support or alimony agreement. This means the court will review the evidence available to determine whether your ex-spouse will need financial assistance to maintain their quality of life. For example, if a couple is married 20 years, and one of the spouses has consistently earned ten times more than the other for the entire extent of the marriage, an Illinois judge will likely view this as the higher-earning spouse controlling more of the couple’s assets and award spousal support to the lower-earning spouse.

Support agreements will also come into play when children are involved. In a high net worth divorce case, the court will likely seek a result that ensures the children face minimal disruption to their daily lives and have access to the funds needed to ensure a safe, healthy, and responsible upbringing. The amount of income each divorcing parent earns will likely come into play during child custody negotiations, but it’s safe to assume that the court will rule in favor of the children’s best interests while taking these amounts into consideration. An experienced divorce attorney can help you prepare as extensively as possible for your high net worth divorce in Metro East, IL.

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