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Proceed with caution when dividing complex assets in divorce

Like many states, Illinois requires an "equitable" division of marital property in divorce. Unfortunately, many spouses have less than a fair division in mind.

It's common for people to bring a revenge mindset to divorce. They want to hurt the other spouse, whether that is financially, through access to children or in some other manner.

In other cases, the parties involved may not be mean-spirited, yet they have extensive and varied assets. Even when couples in this situation are willing to cooperate, the division of property is complex.

Getting It Right

It's important to get the division of marital property right. This aspect of divorce has a great impact on the long-term financial future of both parties, and it is difficult to get a "do-over" once an agreement has been reached.

If there are retirement accounts, pension plans, real estate investments, a family business, a professional partnership, collectibles or any other highly valued asset, it is critical to work with an attorney who has extensive experience addressing the equitable division of this property.

Hiring a valuation specialist is one way to ensure that assets are treated properly. These valuation experts often have accounting backgrounds. If the assets are commercial or investment real estate, jewelry or antiques, it may make sense to enlist assistance from people who specialize in those areas.

Beware of Illiquid Assets

Financial analyst Manisha Thakor, writing in The Wall Street Journal, says the biggest mistake she sees women make in divorce is holding on to illiquid assets (often because of a desire to hold on to a family home).

The second mistake she often sees is the division of private equities (stock holdings in various portfolios). Some holdings can be tied up for months or years and, as Thakor states, "you may find yourself in a very different financial situation than the 'raw numbers' indicate."

It is important to work with knowledgeable valuation experts and get experienced legal counsel when dividing complex assets in divorce. The legal team at Katzman & Sugden, LLC, protect clients' rights and help them set a solid financial foundation for post-divorce life.

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