by Jeffery M. Leving
There are many considerations that must be taken into account during a divorce. Issues involving custody and parenting time, as well as spousal support/alimony, are often the most hotly contested, but property division and settlement is also very important. Not only is it of vital import that you receive the custody and parenting time arrangement you deserve (and that is best for your children), but also that you get an equitable share of all marital property. You don't ever want to end up a target.
It may sound straightforward enough to divide the marital property, but it really isn't as simple as a 50/50 split. Illinois law, like that of many other states, mandates that an "equitable" share of property go to each spouse. This doesn't mean that each person gets an equal share, only that the split is fair under the circumstances.
The person with lower earning capacity can often end up getting a higher share of tangible assets in the divorce, because the other party will be more likely to recoup losses in the long run through wages, bonuses, stock options, etc. It could mean, for example, that if you are a stay-at-home dad, you would be entitled to both the marital home and a significant portion of the retirement funds your wife has earned during the marriage. If the roles are reversed, and you are the primary breadwinner, you may be willing to give up a second home or cabin to your wife in exchange for keeping a prized collection of vintage cars or shares in a family-owned business. Strategic planning, locating hidden assets and discovering critical evidence can make the difference in the final outcome of your case.
Among the issues to be decided when determining an acceptable property settlement are:
- Whether property should be considered marital or separate (or if it has been commingled)
- How to divide complex assets such as retirement accounts, stocks, closely held business interests, partnerships and professional offices
- Debt division
- Offshore accounts and other easily hidden assets
- Vehicles, jewelry and valuable collectibles
- Tax consequences of proposed property division options
Even if your divorce is relatively amicable in nature, you still shouldn't accept a proposed property settlement agreement that is unconscionable and harmful to you. An experienced family law attorney can review it, properly advise you and watch your back. You could end up back in court months (or years) down the road, all because you discover that your spouse purposely hid assets or mischaracterized a valuable asset as separate property when it really should have been included in the marital estate. To ensure a fair property settlement the first time - or to modify terms of an existing agreement after the fact - contact the Chicago Law Offices of Jeffery M. Leving, Ltd., today. Call them toll free at 866-683-9611, locally at 312-702-0862 or send an email.