Common Asset Division Complications in a Chicago Divorce

Top Questions to Ask a Divorce Attorney

By: Gordon & Perlut, LLC

When you are planning for a divorce in Chicago, you should be carefully thinking about the division of marital property. Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), marital assets and debts are divided based on a rule of equitable distribution. Marital property is divided between the spouses in a way the court decides is fair to both parties. To be clear, equitable means fair, not equal. Before the court divides marital property, it classifies all property owned by the spouses either as marital property (and subject to division) or as separate property (and not subject to division). While there are a wide variety of difficulties that can arise during asset division in a Chicago divorce, the following are some especially common property division complications.

Hidden or Missing Assets 

Hidden assets or missing assets is a frequent problem in divorce cases, particularly where one spouse had access to property the other spouse did not, as well as in high net worth divorce cases. Illinois divorce law requires parties to provide a complete and accurate accounting of assets so the court can determine whether they are divisible, and you need to make sure your attorney does the proper investigation. If you are concerned a spouse is hiding assets or that particular assets have gone missing, there are options available. For example, your Chicago area asset division lawyer can get a forensic accountant on your divorce team who can track down the missing assets. If one of the parties did intentionally hide assets, that party can be penalized.

Valuing Unique Property 

Special, rare, and unique property can be complicated to value or to put a price on. We are not referring to family heirlooms with little to no market value. While one of the spouses certainly might be willing to give up other property with a higher market value to keep something sentimental, we are referring to objects that may require an expert appraisal. For example, if you and your spouse own an art or a rare book collection, it may be necessary to hire an appraiser with experience providing valuations for objects like the ones you own. You should also keep in mind that collectible items can experience significant shifts in value over time depending upon the market. Accordingly, even if you had items in a collection appraised at some point during the marriage, a new appraisal is likely necessary. 

Handling “Commingled” Property

Commingled property can make asset division especially complicated. In short, “commingled property” refers to property that has features of both separate property and marital property. Typically, commingled property shows up in divorce cases where one spouse invested separate property into a marital asset, or marital effort led to the increase in value of separate property. Depending upon the specific facts of the case, the court may attempt to trace out the separate property from the marital property. In some situations, the commingled property may end up being treated entirely as marital property and divided.

Seek Advice from a Chicago Area Asset Division Attorney

Getting divorced is difficult under any circumstances. You should not have to worry about unexpected complications arising during asset division. One of the experienced Chicago asset division attorneys at our firm can speak with you today about your situation and options for making a plan for your divorce. Contact Gordon & Perlut, LLC to learn more about the divorce and asset division services we provide to clients in Chicago.