Category Archives: Family Law

The Difference Between Equal and Equitable Division of PropertyThe words “equal” and “equitable” sound similar enough that you could use them interchangeably, but there is an important difference between the words when it comes to divorce. According to Illinois law, the division of property during a divorce must be equitable but not necessarily equal. An equal division of property focuses on each spouse getting half of the marital property, while an equitable division of property is more concerned with each spouse getting a fair share.

Equitable Division vs. Community Property

Nine states, including Wisconsin, follow the community property law that assumes that each spouse equally owns any assets and debts gained during the marriage and must equally divide them during a divorce. The rest of the states use equitable distribution, which means that the marital properties will be divided based on what is fair for each side. If spouses cannot determine an equitable division on their own, a divorce court will decide for them.

Advantages of Equitable Distribution

Why do most states use equitable distribution instead of equal distribution? In many cases, dividing the marital assets equally would not be a fair arrangement because the spouses are not financially equal:

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IL divorce lawyerWhen a marriage ends in divorce, it involves a series of difficult decisions, not the least of which are the decisions regarding property division. It would be more comfortable and less time consuming if a couple were able to discuss the matter amicably. However, many couples cannot agree when it comes to dividing property, assets, and debts. If you are unable to reach an agreement, a judge will do so for you. A judge will make their decision after weighing the following factors:

Marital vs. Non-Marital Property

Any property acquired during the tenure of the marriage is considered marital property. Illinois courts do not have jurisdiction over the non-marital property, which is any property earned or otherwise accumulated before the union began. After determining marital property, the judge then divides it into what is considered “fair and equitable.” Fair and equitable is not to say that the property splits equally, but rather by what is a “just proportion.” Prime examples of property not included in marital property are:

  • Property owned by a spouse before the marriage,
  • Anything received by one spouse by gift or inheritance, and
  • Restrictions based on a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.

The Family Home

One of the most significant purchases a couple makes together is the family home. Since both parties are often significantly invested either through time, money, or improvements, it is complicated to determine a fair and equitable split. Common outcomes include:

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IL divorce lawyerViews of marriage and divorce vary around the world and in different cultural communities. The Western world idolizes and glamorizes the notion of two individuals falling in love and finding their “happily ever after.” Meanwhile, many Asian, African, South American, and Middle Eastern communities prefer the practice of arranged marriages. This method of creating a union has been practiced for thousands of years for cultural, familial, convenience and economic reasons. Although it is believed that these unions build a more stable foundation, they too sometimes result in divorce. No matter the start, sometimes a marriage must come to an end. If you had an arranged marriage, here are some cultural considerations to consider:

The Western Version of Marriage Is Relatively New

When you think about it, the idea of marrying for love is relatively new in the grand scheme of things and is approximately only a few hundred years old. 55% of marriages throughout the world are arranged marriages. Although many people here in the United States have the opinion that these unions occur under force and coercion, that is not true. Many people entering into these marriages do so by their own free will and because it is a tradition that works. On a global scale, the divorce rate of arranged marriage is between 4% and 6%; compared to the United States rate, which hovers around 50%. It is essential to partner with an attorney that understands and respects the practice of arranged marriage.

Marital Values

Individuals within the marriage come from varying backgrounds. During a divorce, it is crucial that an attorney investigate individual beliefs early in the dissolution process. For some, divorce is frowned upon within their community or forbidden altogether. Additionally, each culture celebrates different marital values regarding gender equality and gender roles. An attorney should be sensitive to these considerations and create a strong strategy.

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IL divorce lawyerDivorce is a stressful time for everyone involved. Emotions and tensions rise anytime anyone delves into the often uncomfortable, intimate details of their own personal life and finances, let alone a legal team. Additionally, the stakes of divorce are high, which increases defensive responses. When someone becomes defensive, they begin to behave in such a way as to better their potential outcome. In divorce, this often leads to concealed information, purposeful misrepresentation of a situation, and uncooperative third parties.

Find out how a subpoena can help uncover the truth you know is out there:

What Is a Subpoena?

In Latin, subpoena means, “under penalty.” In legal terms, a subpoena is a legal document that forces the participation of either your spouse or a neutral third party with evidence regarding your divorce. This document is issued only by an attorney or a clerk of court and must be served to all involved parties. If a party opts to ignore the order, they risk being held in contempt, which is punishable by civil fines and criminal charges.

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Lessons You Can Take from a Billionaire's DivorceAmazon CEO Jeff Bezos is headed for divorce with his wife after 25 years of marriage. Given that he is the richest man in the world, it may be the most expensive divorce the world has seen. If they follow the standard equitable division of marital property, his wife could receive around $68 billion in assets. Your divorce will not have this extreme level of valuable assets, but you can learn what to expect from a high-asset divorce by watching his case.

Business Assets

The public question about Bezos’s divorce is how it may affect Amazon. Bezos founded the company after he was married, which means that his ownership of Amazon is marital property. There are several possible outcomes because of this:

  • His wife could obtain a share of ownership of Amazon;
  • She could sell her share to another party, possibly disrupting the company’s balance of power; or
  • Bezos could pay billions of dollars to purchase her share of the company.

Any business owner going through a divorce must weigh similar decisions, though most will have much less money at stake. Your business is a marital property unless you created it before your marriage and have kept its finances separate from your marital finances. It is important to maintain control of your business after your divorce, but you will need to give your spouse other valuable assets as compensation.

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