After twenty years of marriage, Sue and Sam have decided, amicably, to divorce. Their twenty years of marriage have occurred with joint bank accounts, and finances have always been thought of under a “what’s mine is yours” criteria. Add in their similar salaries and doesn’t it make sense to split everything right down the middle?
When it comes to asset division, the key term is “equitably,” which does not mean equally. Instead, it means fair. The court must take into account more aspects than just salary. For example, perhaps Sue gave up a powerful, high-paying career to stay close to Sam. Past earnings, lifestyle, and earning potential all must be observed. This goes for debt as well. Other considerations include the value of each spouse’s properties and businesses, retirement plans, stocks & bonds; the degree to which each spouse contributed to acquiring marital property or the earning power of the other; the future financial and health needs and liabilities of each spouse; and of course, any prenuptial agreements.
When children are involved, equally and equitably get even further apart. If one spouse is the one feeding the children and picking them up from school, there’s an uneven contribution that should be equitably settled. Generally, the court proceeds in the child’s best interest, with the parent who provides the bulk of the childcare receiving the bulk of the assets.
Generally, the equitable division is sensible, and if both parties agree on property division, there’s no reason to get a court involved. However, no matter how complicated your financial situation is, working with a lawyer is key to making sure you haven’t overlooked an asset that you will regret forgetting in the future. Contact the experienced Chicago Divorce lawyers The Law Offices of Michael P. Doman today.