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High Asset Divorce and the Division of Property

Rolling Meadows Divorce Attorney

In a divorce, the division of the couple's property is often the most prominent issue to settle. How long this process takes and which outside professionals must be involved in the process depend on the specific assets the couple owns and the total value of their asset pool. In other words, the property division process will take much longer for a couple who owns multiple pieces of property, a stock portfolio, and has multiple retirement accounts than it would take for a couple who rents an apartment and only has one shared checking account.

Property division is just one of the issues to determine during the divorce process. Couples with children also have to determine parenting time and child support agreements, both of which consider the couple's net worth. To determine how your net worth will affect other aspects of your divorce settlement, speak with an experienced divorce lawyer.

Defining "High Asset Divorce"

A high asset couple, also known as a high net worth couple, is defined by the Securities Exchange Commission as a couple whose net worth exceeds $1,000,000, excluding the value of their primary residence. A high net worth individual is considered an individual whose net worth has exceeded $200,000 in each of the two most recent years or whose income, when combined with that of his or her spouse, exceeded $300,000 in each of the two most recent years and has the reasonable expectation of making at least that much money by the end of the current year. For a high asset couple, property division during the divorce process can have complications and concerns that other couples do not face.

Special Considerations in High Asset Divorces

As discussed above, a couple's pool of marital assets determines how straightforward their divorce can be. If a couple with a small to medium-sized asset pool has a fairly amicable relationship, collaborative divorce can be the best way for them to complete the process.

This is not always true for high net worth couples and individuals. Certain issues that may be at play in a high net worth divorce include:

  • The value of a future income. In other words, when a couple's portfolio includes investments that can reasonably be expected to grow exponentially over the coming years and decades, the future value of these investments must be considered;
  • Professional licenses and practices. Often, high net worth individuals are professionals like doctors, lawyers, and accountants. If the individual operates as a private practice, he or she is a business owner and the business must be valued appropriately to divide it between a couple;
  • Overseas investments and tax shelters;
  • Deferred compensation, bonuses, and the value of stock options associated with one or both partners' professions; and
  • Finding hidden assets. It is not uncommon for one spouse to attempt to hide assets from his or her partner in an attempt to keep them from being divided in the divorce process. Finding hidden assets can require the services of a forensic accountant.

In Illinois, a divorcing couple's property is divided according to the principle of equitable distribution. This means that rather than splitting the couple's assets 50/50, the assets are divided according to a list of factors that help the court determine each partner's personal and financial needs after the divorce. For example, the spouse who has a larger share of parenting time with the couple's children may be given the couple's marital home in a divorce proceeding so the children do not have to be uprooted from their home. In exchange for this, the court might give the other spouse a larger share of the couple's savings. One of the factors considered is the contributions each partner made to the couple's marital asset pool so for couples with a substantial income gap, it is very important that both partners work with lawyers who can advocate for their needs based on their positions.

Work with an Experienced Rolling Meadows Divorce Lawyer

Every divorce is unique. One of the factors that can have a dramatic effect on your divorce is the specific assets you own and their value. To determine the best way to proceed with the divorce process given your unique situation, speak with experienced Rolling Meadows divorce lawyer Donald J. Cosley at the Law Offices of Donald J. Cosley. Contact our office today to set up your initial legal consultation today.

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