A High-net-worth Divorce may have more options available than a “typical” divorce
The Witt Law Firm frequently represents parties in high-net-worth divorces in Chicago. There are unique aspects to high-net-worth divorces. Some of the unique solutions The Witt Law Firm uses include:
- Pre-divorce planning
- Post-nuptial agreements
- Property division in lieu of maintenance
- Trusts in lieu of child support
- Cryptocurrency and digital assets
- Business valuations, appraisals
- Arbitrator as decision-maker
High-net-worth divorces in Chicago often involve a team approach which includes accountants and expert business evaluators. In some cases, corporate and trust attorneys are involved.
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No two divorces are identical. Some clients own businesses and have significant assets. Other clients agree on child custody and want an amicable divorce. We tailor the divorce to each client’s circumstances.
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What Constitutes a High-Net-Worth Divorce?
There is no set definition of what constitutes a high-net-worth divorce in Chicago. In most cases, a high-net-worth divorce in Chicago involves assets with a net value in excess of $2.5 million. Usually, we talk about high-net-worth divorces. But, in some cases it is the high incomes of the parties, more than their assets, that influences the results in the divorce.
Not all high-income people have a high net worth. Even without significant liquid assets, a party’s high income can affect the terms of the divorce. Judges look to the incomes of the parties when deciding maintenance (“alimony”), child support, child’s expenses, and legal fees.
Strategy and Timing
Strategy and timing are important for all parties, but the financial consequences can be greater with increased wealth. The values of some assets may fluctuate over time for a variety of reasons. There may be times that are more advantageous for divorcing.
Not everyone can time their divorce. But some unhappily married parties do time their divorce to coincide with a drop in the value of assets. This is particularly true for the spouse who intends to buy out the interests of the other spouse in the marital assets.
Highly-Rated Chicago Divorce Lawyer
If you want the best Chicago divorce lawyer, look no further than The Witt Law Firm, P.C. We strive to provide the best legal services to our clients going through divorce. Our awards include:
- American Institute of Family Law Attorneys – 10 Best Award
- Attorney & Practice Magazine’s Top 10 – Top 10 Family Law Attorney
- American Assoc. of Attorney Advocates – Top 10 Family Law Attorney
- Avvvo – 10.0 out of 10.0 Top Attorney
- Google – 5-Star Rating
- Illinois Bar Association – Appointed to The Family Law Section Council
- Illinois Bar Association – Appointed to The ARDC Committee
Illinois law provides a formula for calculating the amount and the duration of maintenance. The formula is referred to as guideline maintenance. If the combined income of the spouses is $500,000 or above, the statutory guidelines for maintenance do not apply. If the combined income of the spouses is very high and the marriage is considered long-term, maintenance is likely to be a high-stakes issue in the divorce. The Witt Law Firm has successfully represented parties in cases where maintenance was a high-stakes issue.
In some cases, there might not be any maintenance because both parties are receiving significant assets in the divorce. When parties are receiving millions of dollars in assets, the assets may generate sufficient income to maintain the lifestyle or cover the reasonable and necessary expenses.
Similarly, Illinois law provides guidelines for calculating child support. If the combined income of the parties exceeds a certain amount, the court may deviate from the guidelines.
In addition to the minimum child support amount, courts often order parents to pay certain expenses for their children. These other expenses can include nanny fees, private school tuition, tutoring, extracurricular activities, and uncovered medical expenses. Judges usually divide the child’s expenses based upon the income each parent earns. Often the parties divide the child’s expenses equally (50/50). But, if one parent earns substantially more than the other parent, the higher earner may pay more than 50% of the child’s expenses.
Valuing assets, whether they be business interests, cryptocurrency, real estate, jewelry, etc., is often a key component of high net worth divorces. In some cases, the parties agree to use a neutral expert to value the assets. In more contested cases, each party retains their own valuation expert. Not all appraisers or business valuators are accustomed to Chicago divorce cases. There are valuation experts that regularly testify in Chicago divorce cases.
Illinois law divides marital property among spouses based upon what is “equitable”. Equitable division is not necessarily equal (50/50) division between the parties. In dividing marital property, the court shall not consider marital misconduct unless a spouse dissipated marital property. We discuss dissipation in one of our blog articles, Changes to Illinois Dissipation Law Effective on January 1, 2013.
When deciding how to divide marital property, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including but not limited to: each party’s contribution to the acquisition or increase or decrease in value of the marital or non-marital assets; the contribution of a spouse as a homemaker; the age, health and vocational skills of each spouse.
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