Your divorce is unique. Yet decades of cases with some similar factors or issues may have been decided by appellate courts in Illinois. This history, or precedent, can be used by current courts to aid judges in making decisions. Knowing the numbers in Illinois divorces helps divorce lawyers make projections and advise you about possible outcomes.
Divorce by the numbers? You make it sound like a business.
It is hardly a game. But after the tears and the anger and after resolving what will happen to the children, it becomes very much like the dissolution of a business partnership. Marriage involves a partnership, not only a family in the spiritual sense, but also as an economic unit–with assets and incomes.
What are the numbers involved?
All of them. Numbers have to do with the economic aspects of the marriage. It is not unusual that when a spouse first consults with their lawyer, he or she may have scant knowledge of the incomes and assets. This is not a man-woman thing. It depends on whether one spouse controls and attends to the finances. Or it may depend on whether finances are kept strictly separate.
Sometimes you ask an unknowing spouse if they signed a joint income tax return. The answer is yes, but he or she did not read it. We would suggest that this reflects a bad marriage, since it shows the lack of a financial partnership.
At what numbers should I be looking?
The primary financial document is the income tax return. It reflects the amounts of income reported to the IRS. The tax return will also show if significant assets, including stock, were sold. It also shows if certain assets earned income. This includes items such as rents, dividends or interest.
People should keep their income tax returns and tax records for 3 to 6 years. This is because if the IRS audits your tax returns, they can generally only review the last 3 to 6 years of tax returns, in most cases.
You should also know where the income tax returns (and other important documents) are stored. If, however, you are contemplating a divorce in the foreseeable future, make copies of the last several tax returns. Another document contains a lot of financial information—page 3 of your social security statement. It shows your year-by-year earnings record.
If I divorce, what happens to assets I don’t know about?
If you suspect your spouse may be secreting assets (or sources of income), talk to your lawyer to ensure that you are conducting a thorough investigation (discovery). The judge cannot divide an unknown asset.
If your spouse fraudulently conceals the existence of an an asset during the divorce process, you might be able to have the property settlement vacated so the disposition of the newly found asset may be adjudicated. But generally there is a two-year limitation for bringing vacatur proceedings. The time during which the asset was fraudulently concealed can, however, be excluded in computing the period.
Do numbers apply to the settlement of the financial aspects of a divorce?
Yes. The starting place for the division of marital property is an equal property division. Marital property (property acquired during the marriage, excluding gifts or inheritance that are kept in the recipient’s name) usually falls in the range of one spouse not receiving more than 55 percent of the marital property and not less than 45 percent. While this is the usual range, exceptional facts make for exceptional results. These include the circumstances where one spouse has a significant non-marital estate or where part of the marital estate is a personal injury award.
What are the key numbers in determining child support?
- The gross and net income of each parent;
- The number of overnights to each parent—
- 146 is a key number because that is when the shared-physical care provisions of income share come into play.
- Therefore, determine the actual number of overnights if that number is between 145 and 173. This equals 40% to 50% of the overall parenting time.
What are the key numbers in determining maintenance?
- The gross and net income of each party;
- The length of the marriage to the date of filing;
- The following ratios:
- 1/3 of payor’s net;
- 1/4 of recipient’s net;
- 40%: This is a key number in determining the cap for maintenance.
- 50%. This is the soft cap for child support and maintenance.