High Net Worth Divorce

What is high
net worth divorce?

A high net worth divorce occurs when a divorcing couple has substantial wealth and assets. This term traditionally applies to a divorce involving assets worth more than $1 million. Today, this amount is on the lower end of the spectrum for high net divorce assets.

How is a high net divorce different in Chicago?

High net worth divorces typically involve the valuation of properties and businesses, tracing assets, offshore and international accounts, support obligations, and complex taxation issues.

There are more marital assets to divide

With more property and assets, it is crucial to have a lawyer who has experience working with intricate and complex matters.

At Beermann LLP, our lawyers have worked with the most affluent individuals and high profile matters; while always keeping the matters out of the spotlight.

Standard formulas may not apply

Courts use standard formulas for spousal maintenance and child support, which may not apply in a high net worth divorce. For example, the formula for spousal maintenance awards only applies to couples with a combined income of less than $250,000 a year. In a high net worth divorce, the court will decide how much monthly child support and spousal maintenance payments should be, based on income and other factors.

How are assets divided in a high net worth divorce?

Illinois is an equitable distribution state. When a high net worth couple divorces, the court decides which spouse gets which assets based on what the court believes is equitable. In determining what is equitable, the court is allowed to consider particular circumstances. However, courts cannot hold one of the parties at fault for the divorce and give them a smaller share of the marital assets as a punishment.

What is the dissipation exception?

Courts are allowed to consider dissipation in deciding the division of assets. Dissipation is money spent after the marriage broke down for non-marital purposes. Examples of dissipation include gifts of expensive jewelry to a “significant other,” lavish vacations, luxury car purchases, or “revenge shopping.” If the court finds that dissipation occurred, it could order the spouse who spent the money to reimburse a percentage of those purchases back to the other spouse. The percentage would be based on what the court determined to be an equitable distribution of assets, such as 50/50 or 60/40.

What factors do judges consider in dividing high net worth assets?

Family court judges have discretion in determining what is equitable in divorce property division. As Illinois is a no-fault state, judges cannot consider adultery, domestic violence, abuse, or conduct in deciding equitable distribution.

Factors they consider include:

  • Income earned by each spouse during the marriage
  • Length of marriage
  • Age and health of the spouses
  • Likely future earnings of each spouse
  • Contributions made by each spouse to the marriage and the marital estate
  • Dissipation against the marital estate
  • Child support or spousal maintenance payments from a previous marriage
  • Tax obligations of each spouse

How important is an attorney
in a high net worth divorce?

Division of marital property is a complicated feature of high net worth divorce. You will need to make a full and complete accounting of all assets and debts to be divided with your spouse. Your divorce attorney can select the right experts to value businesses and determine the tax consequences of restructuring assets. An experienced divorce and family law lawyer can help you assess which property is considered marital property, help you plan for tax consequences, and help you navigate all of the critical issues involved in your divorce.

Beermann LLP is the firm other attorneys go to for divorce. From complex litigation to negotiated settlements to appeals, our deep bench of talented lawyers have years of experience and a reputation in the courts. When everything is at stake, we are the law firm people reach out to for their family law matters.