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West Chicago division of marital assets lawyerNo 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 he or she receives, in addition to all appropriate child support and spousal maintenance, an equitable portion of the marriage’s assets. When there exists reason to suspect that the income earning spouse is not cooperating in the equitable division required under state law, it is necessary to utilize the legal process of income discovery.

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Posted on in Divorce

West Chicago divorce hidden assets attorneyIllinois 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 a trust, may also be misused to place income in an account beyond the proper reach of equitable distribution. 

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DuPage County divorce attorney division of marital propertyDivorce is common, an outcome dissolving between 40 and 60% of marriages in the United States. Importantly, the laws governing divorce are state-specific, meaning that, if you were married in Illinois, live in Illinois, and will divorce in Illinois, it will be Illinois law that applies to the division of marital property. When dividing property during divorce, Illinois law utilizes a principle of “equitable distribution.” 

Equitable distribution demands that all marital property – property acquired by either spouse while married – be divided fairly and equitably. Importantly, however, “fairly and equitably” does not necessarily equate to “equally.” Rather, the courts will attempt to divide property in a fair and just manner.

Marital Property May Include More Than You Realize

Cash, cars, and houses are three items that may spring to mind when contemplating the assets of a marriage. However, marital property often contains a far greater diversity of assets (and, in many cases, liabilities such as credit card debts) than a bank balance, residence, and means of transportation. 

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DuPage County divorce mediation lawyerDivorce is a difficult matter. If you have gone through a divorce or are currently in the midst of the divorce process, you know this truth all too well. Besides the emotional toll of a divorce, there are numerous complexities associated with the dissolution of a marriage. If there are dependent children involved, the issue of parental responsibilities and parenting time is of primary importance and one that becomes challenging to solve if one parent has moved or intends to move to a different state or country. Courts, as they should, consider the best interests of the child when crafting an order to allocate parental responsibilities – a calculus that can drastically alter parenting plans.

Whether or not the responsibility for dependent children is an issue in your divorce, property division almost certainly will be. Your primary residence, any secondary properties, vehicles, personal belongings, and items of sentimental value will likely be at issue as you and your spouse cease to live under the same roof. Dividing this property can be difficult, especially with regard to items that cannot easily be split in half. When division gets difficult, a certified Illinois mediator can prove invaluable in helping divorcing spouses to make difficult decisions and reach resolutions that are fair and agreeable to both parties.

Not All Property Is Equally Divisible During the Dissolution of a Marriage

Some pieces of property are easy to divide. Matching dressers?  No problem – each spouse can take one. But what about the family dog? Or a family heirloom, such as a collection of rare coins? Or an oil painting? How does one divide such items, especially if neither spouse wants to sell the item in question and split the proceeds?  These are difficult questions with difficult answers. Yet, one must ask and answer them. Here, a certified Illinois mediator can be of great assistance, overseeing even the most challenging aspects of property division.  

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