A high-asset divorce has the potential to be much lengthier and more complex than other divorces. Though any divorce can become contentious, more complex divorces, like high-net-worth divorces, are more likely to have raised emotions. High-asset divorces have to go through all the same negotiations or litigation to determine how assets are split, whether spousal maintenance is awarded, and the custody and support of children. The additional complications of high-asset divorces can make each of these decisions even harder.

Both spouses have the potential to lose a lot, and this can make them more combative. If you’re a spouse who has worked hard to accumulate wealth, it can feel as though a divorce is taking this from you. If you’re a spouse who entered the marriage with less wealth, it can feel as if your spouse doesn’t want to leave you with what you deserve. A high-asset divorce has to be handled with extreme care.

High-Asset Divorces and Division of Property

The division of property between spouses is changed severely in a high-asset divorce. One or both spouses may have significantly high-valued separate assets, and they likely have high-value or high amounts of marital assets. One or both spouses may own businesses or real estate properties. Other assets in a high-net-worth divorce could include:

  • High-value assets such as art, antiques, jewelry, and luxury vehicles
  • Vested interests in businesses
  • Investments and other sources of deferred income
  • Retirement accounts and assets

Like any divorce, these assets have to be valued and separated. This is a process that takes much longer and will be more expensive in a high-asset divorce. Both spouses have extreme interests in their fair portion of marital assets, and reaching a conclusion that leaves both parties content can be difficult. Many assets are difficult or impossible to split.

Some high-asset marriages may have a postnuptial or prenuptial agreement for the division of assets. These marital agreements may outline the division of assets and each spouse’s rights and responsibilities to separate and marital property. When there is a marital agreement, parties are not subject to the court’s ruling for property division.

However, if there is no marital agreement and spouses can’t work out property division through an alternative dispute resolution, the Illinois divorce court will determine the division of assets. Illinois is an equitable distribution state, meaning that marital assets are not necessarily split equally between parties. Instead, the court begins with the assumption that each spouse has an equal claim to marital assets. Then, based on several factors about the spouses and their marriage, the court will determine a fair and equitable split of assets. This could end up being equal, but it may not be.

Determining Child Support in a High-Asset Divorce

In Illinois, child support is determined based on a formula that uses the parents’ combined income and the number of children who need support. However, Illinois has a cap on the combined income to use this formula. In a high-net-worth divorce, child support will likely not be calculated by the state’s formula and will instead be determined on an individual basis. Children of high-asset marriages often have higher or additional expenses than most. Spouses must determine child support in their separation agreement, or the court will make the decision for them.

Additional Considerations

There are several other differences in a high-net-worth divorce. This may include:

  • Hidden assets. Hidden assets by one spouse during divorce discovery are more common in a high-asset divorce. It may be done to change how marital property is divided or to protect certain assets.
  • Media attention. High-net-worth divorces are more likely to attract media attention and have less privacy than other divorces. Additional steps are needed to keep the divorce private.
  • Spousal maintenance. There is also a cap on the income level used for determining spousal support payments. This means that it may be up to a judge’s discretion when to award spousal maintenance and how much it will be.


Q: How Are Assets Divided in a Divorce in Illinois?

A: Illinois divides assets under equitable distribution laws. The court looks at several factors to determine what is a fair split of assets for each party. These factors include:

  • The length of the marriage
  • Each spouse’s financial standing, income, and resources
  • The value of each spouse’s separate assets
  • Each spouse’s financial and non-financial contributions to marital property
  • Any dissipation of marital assets by either spouse
  • Any existing marital agreements
  • Which parent is housing and caring for children
  • If either spouse is paying child or spousal support for the current marriage or a previous marriage
  • The tax consequences of assets and support payments

Q: What Are the Different Types of Divorce in Illinois?

A: Divorce in Illinois is either uncontested or contested. An uncontested divorce may be negotiated between spouses in mediation, collaborative divorce, or other alternative dispute resolutions. In an uncontested divorce, both spouses agree on all or a majority of the aspects of divorce. This includes property division, spousal maintenance, child custody, and child support. An uncontested divorce is usually quicker, less expensive, and provides spouses more control and say in the outcome.

Q: What Can Be Used Against You in a Divorce in Illinois?

A: Illinois no longer allows divorces to be filed as fault-based divorces. Divorces must instead be filed as no-fault divorces on the grounds of an irretrievably broken marriage. However, actions during a marriage can still be used against a spouse during divorce proceedings. Marital misconduct that harmed marital property could be grounds for receiving less than half of marital assets in the division of property.

Q: How Long Is the Average Divorce in Illinois?

A: In Illinois, an uncontested divorce has no waiting period, while a contested divorce requires spouses to separate for six months before finalizing a divorce. Other than those six months, the length of time a divorce takes relies on the unique factors of a divorce. More assets or higher levels of conflict between spouses will make the process longer.

Preparing for a High-Asset Divorce

If you are about to be involved in divorce proceedings with significant and high-value assets, you need a legal professional. Contact Stange Law Firm today. We want to help protect your privacy, family, wealth, and interests.