Many divorcing spouses have surprisingly few assets to divide in this day and age. Couples may execute a prenuptial agreement to do so preemptively, or they may simply keep most of their assets separate. However, when a couple have high-value assets to consider or if there are shared assets with high dollar values, a more experienced hand may be required in order to obtain an appropriate settlement.
Equitable Distribution Law
Illinois is an equitable distribution state, meaning that all marital property will be distributed according to the court’s consideration of a list of relevant factors. Equitable is not the same as equal; marital property is almost never divided in exactly equal parts, especially when high-value assets are involved. There are usually too many assets to divide and too many circumstantial variables.
Because Illinois follows the principle of equitable distribution in the division of marital property, it is somewhat easier to divide or dispose of high-value assets, simply because each person’s portion of the marital estate does not have to be equal. For example, a custodial parent of four children may be awarded most or all of a couple’s investment portfolio simply because that parent will require more assets and resources to provide for the children in an appropriate manner.
Prioritize What You Want
High value assets are not always those that cost the most, but the assets that are the most difficult to include in an equitable distribution will generally be those with the highest dollar value. Examples that may fit this category under Illinois law include family-owned businesses, stock portfolios, overseas assets, fine art, and automobiles. Assets that have high dollar value and may also have sentimental attachment value as well.
The most important thing to keep in mind when attempting to negotiate or argue for possession of a certain high-value asset is that it will probably be offset. You must be willing to relinquish claims to other assets in order to wholly possess another, unless that asset has been disposed of via prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. This is often the case with family businesses or closely-held corporations. Very often, a business will be specifically discussed in a prenuptial agreement for the express purpose of avoiding a drawn-out battle in divorce court.
Consult a High Value Divorce Attorney
When you and your spouse have high-value assets to dispose of, it is generally a good idea to consult an attorney before attempting to do so, lest one of you wind up with the unfairly short end of the proverbial stick. The knowledgeable Kane County property division attorneys at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. can help ensure that both you and your spouse receive an appropriate settlement. Contact our office today to set up an initial consultation.