Valuing Intangible Contributions

DuPage County divorce lawyer, homemaker, Illinois court, llinois divorce, non-monetary contribution, stay-at-home mom, valuation, valuation and divorce, intangible contributionsWhile the reasons for divorce can center around various instigators ranging from infidelity to irreconcilable differences, the process inevitably addresses the issue of money. Property divided upon divorce, child support payments, satisfaction of debts, and alimony are all topics with which most people have at least some sort of familiarity. Each of these issues deals with either the classification of property, the allocation of debts, or the assessment of payments to be made from one party to the other. At the core of each consideration lies valuation.

Valuation in Divorce

Valuation is about money. How much each spouse makes, the size of debts, the earning potential of each individual, the contribution to the marital estate, and the value of property to be distributed are all boiled down to dollar values. While this seems to be an odd way to quantify what is regularly considered an unquantifiable relationship between spouses, it is what currently works.

Courts can only work with the laws and facts they are given, making decisions with tangible concepts such as valued commodities, goods, and contributions. This allows the Court to make a reasonable assessment of the situation by using standard rules that are impartial towards the situation, and, as a result, come to a conclusion based on reason. The benefit of this process is that it is repeatable; the court can make decisions in an unbiased manner that would result in largely the same outcome given similar circumstances.

What constitutes fair distribution?

Parties are often concerned with what is ‘fair’ and demand their ‘fair’ share, or rebuke when offered an ‘unfair’ settlement agreement. The problem, however, lies in how a court can decide what is fair. Intangible contributions towards the marriage, such as emotional availability or psychological support, do not have dollar signs attached. Always being the optimist, or being the partner who contributes a positive outlook in the relationship, may, in very rare circumstances, contribute to more complex grounds for divorce, but it will not add value to that spouse’s contribution towards the marital estate. On the other hand, material contributions towards the marriage that can be quantified will affect the Court’s consideration and calculation of property division and alimony awards.

In the case of the stay-at-home mom or the homemaker, Illinois courts will look at the marriage more like they might look at a business. In a partnership, the less economically valuable contribution to the business, such as the person actually putting in the hours to run the business, may be less impressive on paper than a silent partner’s financial contributions.

However, the business only operates on the theory that each partner contributes something of value. In this sense, time is money. Similarly, in a marriage, the homemaker contributes to the partnership by allowing the ‘bread winner’ to go out and pursue an income. In this case, the homemaker’s contribution is not financially valuable, but it allows for the partnership to improve because of those efforts. While there is no specific dollar value assigned to that contribution, the court will take into consideration the specific facts and circumstances of the marriage in order to assess what sort of effect the contribution has had on developing the marital estate.

Another intangible consideration that should be considered in divorce is the opportunity cost. Going back to the homemaker hypothetical, it is necessary to ask, “What has the homemaker given up?” A stay-at-home mom or dad is often making professional sacrifices in order to take care of the house and children. The years it takes to support a growing family means that the person staying home is missing out on years of experience in their chosen profession. Furthermore, taking time out of work might necessitate a re-education in order to re-enter the job market. Even when that person does go back to work, it is likely that they will be compensated to a lesser degree than they would had they stayed on their career path.

An Illinois Attorney Can Answer Your Questions

All of these aspects can be considered when going through the divorce process. It is important to know which contributions you have made over the years can be included in the final calculations during a divorce. A competent legal professional can help you make the best possible case in your Illinois divorce by being familiar with the laws, cases, and processes.

In order to present the best arguments and provide the best proof of why your non-monetary or intangible contribution is valuable, contact the qualified attorneys at Martoccio & Martoccio today to speak with an experienced divorce attorney. Remember that the court can only take into consideration what it sees, so let the experienced attorneys at Martoccio & Martoccio help put your best foot forward today.

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