What happens during a divorce regarding money?
There are several financial issues including property division, child support and spousal support. It is important to understand in general the financial issues involved in a divorce and a general understanding of your rights under Illinois divorce law.
Will I be better off financially after the divorce?
With rare exceptions (whether you are the husband or the wife) you will be significantly worse off financially after the divorce than you were before.
Is it cheaper to live together?
Yes, if for no other reason than because after the divorce there will be two residences to maintain, and so two rents or mortgage payments.
The lion’s share of the assets
I am a wife who brought no income into the marriage. I was not employed outside of the home. I raised the children. Will my husband get the lion’s share of the assets because he was the only income producer?
No. First, even though you were not employed outside of the home while your husband was, the law gives you credit in regard to property distribution for your services as a homemaker. Generally, the courts consider the homemaker contribution as equal to the husband’s paycheck contribution. You should usually receive at least 50 percent of the marital assets. You will probably receive more than 50 percent.
Divide my Income on a Per Capita Basis
As a husband with a wife and two children, if you were to divide my income on a per capita basis, I probably do not spend more than my per capita share of 25 percent on myself. If I pay 28 percent of my net income, as required per the child support guidelines, am I money ahead in the divorce even if I also have to pay 12 percent of my income for maintenance (alimony), for a total of 40 percent of my net income going to the family?
Yes, if you look at it on a per capita basis you are money ahead. Sometimes it has been suggested that the income (or incomes when both are employed) should be divided on a per capita basis. This proposal has not met with success in the courts, or in the legislature.
What to do when there is a budget shortfall?
Throughout the marriage I have been a homemaker and have raised the children. I have no specific income generating skills. Even if I receive close to 50 percent of my husband’s income, it will leave a budget shortfall. What do I do?
A divorce often means that the luxury of the children having a stay at home parent will be gone. In most cases like yours, mothers are required to have full time employment.
My husband, during the marriage, honed his income generating skills while I took care of the home and family. Will the law compensate me for this?
Yes, in part. The statutory factor to be considered in dividing marital property is the ability of each party to acquire income (income generating power) and assets in the future. Because it is usually the husband who has this advantage, statistically, in more than approximately 62 percent of divorces (as affirmed by Illinois appellate courts), the wife receives more than 50 percent of the marital property.
Exceptions where Divorce is financially advantages
You said that with few exceptions divorce does not financially advantage either party. What is an example of an exception where a party is financially advantaged by a divorce?
If you have non-marital property (premaritally owned or acquired by gift or inheritance and held in your own name) which produces a significant amount of income, and the income has been used for family purposes, this non-marital property will be declared to be exclusively yours and the income from the non-marital property will be exclusively yours. You will be money ahead, but if you are obligated to pay child support or maintenance, your income from non-marital sources will be considered part of the basis on which the obligations are based.
If I am ordered to pay child support (and maybe maintenance) will I have any other obligations to the family, such as also paying the mortgage etc.?
No. Your sole obligation is to pay child support and maybe maintenance. But out of those funds, and whatever other funds your spouse has, it is up to her to pay all the expenses for herself and the children. The exceptions are that the non-custodial parent is usually required to maintain health insurance for the children, and if there are daycare expenses for the children (on account of the custodian’s employment) to pay one-half of the daycare expenses for the children.
In addition, if your children go on to receive post-high school education (college or trade school), each parent will be required to contribute in accordance to their ability to contribute.