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Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C.
630-472-9700Available 24/7

Dividing High-Value Assets in Divorce

Posted on in Division of Property

Illinois divorce lawyerEvery marriage accumulates assets, classified as marital property, that must be divided upon divorce. However, the division process for assets that have significant value can get much more complex, simply because there must be a more thorough balancing of assets and debts in order to make sure that both spouses get a fair share, rather than leaving one spouse with the lion’s share of the property and one with the debts. It is important to have a good grasp of the process, so you can be doubly sure that you are not being given the proverbial short end of the stick.

Each Asset Is Different

Perhaps the most important thing to understand about this process of asset division is that each situation is different, as well as each couple. Some of the most common high-value assets include family businesses, retirement accounts, real property, and stakes in corporations, and all of these must be handled differently. Even more factors enter into the equation when one assesses each spouse’s role in acquiring or maintaining the asset, as well as numerous other factors generally considered by the court in every asset division.

Despite the disparate nature of all the criteria that must be taken into account, it is still important to do so. If one has, for example, a medical practice that is classified as marital property (that is, it was begun or acquired during the marriage, or it has been improved by money gained during the marriage), in most cases, only one spouse is able to operate that practice legally.

However, both spouses have contributed extensively to the upkeep of the practice. What does a court do? In many cases, this asset will be awarded to the spouse with the medical license, while awarding more assets to the non-practicing spouse in order to make up for the significant value of the practice. There are other options. It may be sold. Or, if both spouses are licensed to practice medicine, the other spouse may be awarded the practice. Every detail matters.

Watch for Mistakes or Irregularities

In dividing high-value assets, it can be deceptively easy to mistakenly or deliberately place an incorrect value on a certain asset, such as a piece of real property. If you miss any kind of manipulation of the cash flow from that particular asset, it can lead to under or over-valuing that asset, to the detriment or advantage to one spouse over the other. This can also be a problem from a tax standpoint, as acquisitions or losses may wind up changing one spouse’s tax bracket if it is significant enough.

While mistakes do happen, any indication of deliberately manipulating the cash flow from an asset can put someone in serious trouble. However, while doing such a thing is unethical and might lead to personal liability for your spouse if they did indeed massage the numbers or conceal income, what it will not do is give you any kind of advantage or benefit in your divorce.

Illinois only recognizes so-called “no-fault” grounds for divorce; in other words, the law states clearly that courts will not take marital misconduct into account when dividing assets. The court might take economic hardship into account, but not specifically bad acts on the part of your spouse.

Family Law Attorneys in DuPage County

If you are in the process of divorcing and have questions - or suspicions - about your high-value assets, consulting a knowledgeable attorney can be a very good idea. The experienced DuPage County family lawyers at Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. can sit down with you and discuss just how best to handle your case while ensuring that all receive their fair portion. Contact the office today to set up an appointment.




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