In Divorce, Does More Money Equal More Problems?

Across the Atlantic, Studies Debunk Myths About Divorce

When it comes to divorce, having more money can often mean more problems. The Securities Exchange Commission defines a high asset or high net worth couple as a couple whose net worth exceeds $1,000,000, excluding the value of their primary residence. If you fall into this category, dividing your property during the divorce process can have complications and concerns with financial, tax, and other issues that other couples do not face.

How big of a problem this becomes depends on what assets are involved, whether there are child custody and parental responsibility issues, and how willing you and your divorcing spouse are to reach an agreement. If the divorce is contentious and the stakes are high enough, a high-asset divorce can lead to months and, in some cases, years of litigation, as a single mistake can cost millions of dollars.

At Wolfe & Stec, Ltd., our skilled Illinois divorce lawyers have extensive experience protecting high asset individuals in divorce and family law cases. We understand the financial and emotional stakes involved when family-owned businesses, real estate, pensions, or stock options are in play during marital property division. We are aggressive in protecting our clients’ rights and assets, while still focusing on preserving relationships, often essential when divorcing spouses need to continue working in the same business or industry — as well for co-parenting.

We offer a free initial consultation to discuss your individual situation, so call or contact us online today.

Dividing Assets in Illinois

Illinois is an equitable distribution state, which means marital property does not have to be divided equally.  Instead, property is divided in a manner that the courts feel is fair after evaluating the circumstances.

Marital assets are any asset earned, obtained or purchased over the course of the marriage. The courts will consider whether a particular asset is marital, non-marital (solely owned by one party or the other), or commingled and then assign a monetary value on the marital property and debt.  After that, the marital assets will be distributed in an equitable fashion.

To ensure that your final property division is fair, you must first locate and put a value on all marital property, including:

  • Primary residences, rental properties, and vacation properties
  • Business assets and professional practices
  • Retirement savings and accounts such as IRAs, stocks, stock options and bonds
  • Collectibles, jewelry and artwork
  • Local, interstate and international bank accounts
  • International, offshore and overseas assets
  • Valuable belongings and collectibles such as antique cars, jewelry or art
  • Compensation awards from workers’ compensation, personal injury or medical malpractice cases
  • Vehicles, including cars, boats, motorcycles and recreational vehicles

Be aware that, especially in high-asset cases, a spouse may try to hide certain assets in order to keep them. If you suspect this is the case, your attorney should work with a forensic accountant to find hidden assets.

Special Issues in High Asset Divorces

High asset divorces may create other issues that need to be addressed, such as:

  • The consideration of future income — investments that can reasonably be expected to grow over the coming years.
  • Professional licenses and practices need to be valued appropriately.
  • Overseas investments and tax shelters must be found and valued.
  • Deferred compensation, bonuses, and the value of stock options associated with professions must be valued.
  • The contributions each partner made to the couple’s marital asset pool must be evaluated if there is a substantial income gap.
  • Prenuptual and post-nuptual agreements must be examined.
  • Couples with children must determine parenting time and child support agreements and related tax issues.


In high-asset divorce, it’s essential to have experienced legal guidance from the very beginning to help you fight for a beneficial settlement and security after divorce. The skilled Illinois family-law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. know the laws, the courts and the system. They can guide you through every aspect of your high-asset divorce.

Our attorneys will work closely with you to perform a thorough analysis of how your assets and debts were handled during the marriage, protect your right to your separate property and seek a favorable and equitable distribution of your marital property. We protect our clients from becoming financially liable for debts associated with their spouse’s business enterprises and will assist you in determining what additional experts may be needed to protect your financial future.

We believe it is best to deal with high-asset property division issues amicably and settle outside of court if possible. However, if necessary, we will aggressively represent our clients’ interests in court.

Don’t delay. For a free initial consultation with an experienced and compassionate Dupage County family law attorney, contact us online or call today.

Attorney Natalie Stec

Natalie M. Stec, born and raised in Illinois, and earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her practice has been concentrated in significant pre and post decree marital and family law cases; including custody, visitation, support, and paternity matters. She has important criminal defense experience in both misdemeanor and felony cases. She is a very dedicated and passionate litigator. [ Attorney Bio ]