Ensuring a Fair and Equitable Division of Assets During Divorce
No couple expects their marriage will end in divorce when they first get married. The beginning of a marriage is a typically a time of peak trust and solidarity, with spouses willingly assuming the roles believed to contribute to a happy and successful union, “Until death do us part.” However, it is important for both spouses to understand their rights, especially when it comes to ownership of the assets they have acquired over the course of their marriage.
Even in a society that is gradually becoming less gendered in matters of economic opportunity, it is still common for one spouse to assume the role of income earner, and the other the role of stay-at-home parent. In such an arrangement, a knowledge gap may come to exist with regard to the marriage’s income, assets, liabilities, investments, and other financial information, with the income-earning spouse handling most financial matters and the stay-at-home parent focused on crucial parenting responsibilities, such as the education, healthcare, nutrition, and transport of the children.
When the unthinkable happens and the marriage ends divorce, the stay-at-home parent must suddenly close this financial knowledge gap, prepare for life as both a parent and manager of finances, and ensure that …
Using Discovery to Uncover Hidden Income and Assets During Divorce
Planning for life after divorce is tough enough, even when there are no child custody and support matters to address, and both spouses will continue on in their careers without interruption after the marriage’s dissolution. Divorce takes an emotional toll even in circumstances where the decision is mutual and there is no animosity. Many divorces, however, are rife with tension and disagreement over financial issues, including the division of marital assets, spousal support, and, when there are children involved, child support.
In obtaining the fair and equitable distribution of assets required by Illinois law, as well as in securing the spousal and child support you need and deserve, the legal process of discovery is instrumental in uncovering income or assets which a spouse may intend to hide from the asset division process.
Illinois Divorce Law Utilizes a Principle of Equitable Distribution
When divorce occurs in Illinois, the state utilizes a principle of “equitable distribution” with regard to a marriage’s income and assets. An equitable distribution is not necessarily an equal division, but is defined broadly as the division of property in “just proportions.”
Some assets of a spouse, especially those obtained prior to marriage and kept separate during marriage (e.g., …
The Rights of a Stay-At-Home Parent in an Illinois Divorce
Divorce can bring unique stress and uncertainty for people who have chosen to assume the valuable role of stay-at-home parent. If you are such a person, you know all too well the worrisome thoughts that hover. How am I going to earn money and be there for my children? Can I even start a career now? How is it fair that my ex-spouse is leaving the marriage with their career intact, while I am entering the job market for the first time?
Each of these concerns is both legitimate and commonplace. Fortunately, Illinois state law (which governs divorce, child support, and spousal support) acknowledges and respects the trade-offs and sacrifices in marriages in which one spouse assumes the role of income earner and the other the role of stay-at-home parent.
Equitable Property Division for the Stay-At-Home Parent
Just because one spouse earned the majority of the income during a marriage, that does not mean that he or she is entitled to all or most of the marital property. Illinois recognizes that stay-at-home parenting is in itself a valuable contribution, representing both a benefit to the well-being of children and a sacrifice of career opportunities.
This contribution is not unlike …
Resolving Issues During a Contested Divorce in Illinois
During divorce, spouses must address and settle a wide variety of legal issues related to how they will divide the various aspects of their shared lives into two separate households. The agreement or lack thereof with regard to these important issues speaks to whether the divorce is “contested” or “uncontested.” When a divorce is contested, it is important for spouses to understand the steps they must take as they work to reach a resolution.
Addressing the Issues Which Must Be Resolved During Divorce
Whether a divorce is contested or uncontested in Illinois, the dissolution of the marriage is a formal process that begins with the filing of a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and ends with an action by a court of law. A divorce cannot be finalized until all outstanding legal issues are resolved. With regard to a contested divorce in Illinois, the subject matter in contest (in dispute) includes some or all of the following:
- Allocation of Parental Responsibility (formerly known as Child Custody)
- Child Support
- Spousal Support
- Property Division
With regard to parental responsibility, allegations of capacity or fitness-related deficiencies may be leveled by one party, accusing the other of failing to meet their parental responsibilities …
Uncovering Hidden Assets During Divorce
Illinois law requires the equitable distribution of all marital property in the event of divorce. Equitable distribution is, under state law, the fair and just division of marital property. Importantly, a fair and just division is not necessarily an equal division. Besides employment-based income, earnings from investments must also be analyzed, as well as benefits from pensions and other sources. Liabilities (e.g. debt) are also subject to equitable distribution.
In all matters, both parties are obligated to be fully transparent regarding income, assets, liabilities, and other financial matters during a divorce. If you have reason to believe that your spouse is lacking in transparency with regard to their complete financial picture during your divorce, an experienced divorce attorney will work to compel the discovery of income and hidden assets.
Means By Which a Spouse May Attempt to Hide Assets
It is upsetting to learn, but there are several ways a spouse may be attempting to hide income or other financial assets. Once it is clear that the marriage will end in divorce, a spouse may attempt to defer income, including bonuses and promotions, so that it is received after the process of equitable distribution. Estate planning resources, such as …