Dividing up the assets of the marriage is one of the most important tasks that the parties have in a divorce. It also happens to be one of the most complicated. The basic rule in Illinois is one of equitable distribution. This means that judges examine a variety of factors and determine asset value and what is the fairest way to divide up the property. These factors include, among other things, the parties income, how much they contributed to the marriage, their standard of living, and their potential income in the future.
In order for the judge to make these decisions about property division accurately, they must know what all the different property is worth. In many cases, this is a simple enough process. Valuing a bank account is as simple as looking at the balance sheet. Even something like a car is easy enough to value. Cars are bought and sold often enough that determining the fair market value of the car is mostly about research. There are other asset values that are tougher to determine. These include unique assets, and assets that have rapidly shifting values.
Unique assets can take a variety of forms, such as expensive jewelry, rare artwork, and antique furniture. By far, the most common unique asset is the marital home. No two homes are quite alike. They have different locations, different layouts, and different levels of upkeep and different renovations. This can make coming up with the fair value of the home difficult.
The most common way for the court to get a homes value is through the testimony of expert witnesses. Expert witnesses are people that both parties hire based on their skill in a certain area. The expert can then help the court understand complex issues. For houses, people can hire appraisers to get an estimate of the houses value based on the appraisers knowledge of the market. These appraisers can look at the history of home sales in the neighborhood, searching for homes of comparable size and quality, and then use those to estimate the worth of the marital home.
Rapidly Shifting Assets
The other type of assets that can create a challenge during the valuation are those with values that change quickly. Stock portfolios are a good example of this type of asset. The value of a stock portfolio at any instant is easy to determine, but it changes day by day. For these sorts of assets, the court picks a valuation date, usually near the date of the trial, and uses that as the point from which the assets can be valued.
Divorce is a complex legal process, and an experienced guide can make the whole event much easier. Reach out to an experienced Naperville divorce attorney today to learn about your options.