Valuing Assets in a DuPage County High Asset Divorce

forensic accountant, Wheaton divorce attorneyIt goes without saying that there is a lot at stake when a couple with a large number of assets gets divorced, and the sheer scope of the property involved can make these cases daunting. Many couples have assets spread across numerous types of accounts and investments across the country. Sometimes even international assets are involved. Add in the fact that in many cases one spouse attempts to hide or devalue assets to avoid giving up property in the divorce, and you have a recipe for a case that can drag on for years. However, many clients are now finding that high asset divorce cases can be simplified through forensic accounting.

What Is Forensic Accounting?

A forensic accountant is a financial professional who has investigative and auditing abilities that go far beyond that of an average accountant who may help prepare your income taxes. Similar to how a forensic scientist helps police put together what happened at a crime scene, a forensic accountant can help a divorce attorney reconstruct where assets came from, where they have been hidden, and how they have been devalued.

In addition, a forensic accountant can produce reports about his or her findings that can be introduced into evidence at hearings, and also offer expert testimony on what an investigation has uncovered. Many forensic accountants work closely with attorneys on high asset divorces and other cases, so they are often quite familiar with legal procedure.

Why a Forensic Accountant Is Valuable in High Asset Divorces

Assume one spouse has a sizable partnership active in several states, as well as a trust that holds property located across the Midwest. Figuring out the exact value of these assets would be difficult for a regular accountant, but a forensic accountant will go through years of transactional records to determine the exact value of the assets held by the partnership and trust.

In many cases, a spouse may purposely represent that these assets have a lower value to avoid paying higher taxes, but a forensic accountant can review records to find the true value of this property. And, of course, a forensic accountant can be invaluable in determining how exactly a former spouse has hidden assets from consideration in the divorce proceedings.

One other issue that regularly comes up in Illinois is the value of pension benefits. These benefits can be difficult to calculate exactly based on cost of living increases, inflation and life expectancy, but a forensic accountant can assist in producing a report that accurately reflects the value of these assets.

Contact an Experienced Attorney

Figuring out what you are entitled to is never easy in a divorce, and it only gets more complicated when a divorcing couple has a large number of different high value assets. An Illinois divorce attorney can ensure that these assets are properly valued in a divorce so that you get your fair share of marital property. Contact our dedicated and experienced DuPage County family law attorneys today for a consultation and to learn how we can help you.


Cook County Court Makes Record $2.3 Million Child Support Award

child supportIllinois law generally requires supporting parents to pay at least 20 percent of their net income toward the support of their children, and that percentage only increases if more children are involved. But for various reasons, many parents think they can avoid this duty to care for their children. It is a problem that both the Illinois legislature and domestic relations courts takes seriously, and as a recent $2.3 million award makes clear, courts are not afraid to send a message to those in the state who try to avoid child support obligations.

Cook County Child Support Award Could Be Highest in State History

To be sure, the facts in a recent  Cook County case, which was decided in April, are unusual. Despite what you may be thinking, the case does not involve a millionaire or lottery winner who skipped out a large number of child support payments.

In this case, the petitioner, a woman who had been married to the manager of a car dealership in Herscher, Illinois, was awarded child support in the divorce. The woman attempted to receive child support from the dealership by having her ex-husband’s income withheld, but the dealership did not comply. The business claimed that the wages were not withheld because of a clerical error, and because the man was an independent contractor rather than a full-time employee.

In 2010, the woman initially sought only $7,820, which covered the eight-month period during which the man worked for the dealership. The amount was not unusually high for child support in Illinois. The car dealership eventually paid this amount, but in cases where employers do not withhold income as directed, regardless of the business’s reasoning, Illinois law provides for another remedy. An employer who refuses to withhold wages for child support in Illinois can be fined $100 per day until it complies with the law. As this case dragged on for years prior to the employer’s eventual, if reluctant, payment, the penalty ended up being quite a large amount, or $2.3 million specifically as the court determined.

The court ruled against the business on several grounds, finding that it had called witnesses who did not make credible statements and previously provided the woman with a check that bounced. The judge also did not accept the business’s legal arguments.

According to media reports, the business will almost certainly appeal this decision in the hopes that it can avoid paying out a child support award that is likely the largest in the state’s history. However, the business may have a difficult case on appeal. In 2007, the Illinois Supreme Court upheld a $1.2 million award in a similar case.

Contact an Experienced Attorney

As this latest judgment shows, Illinois courts take refusal to pay child support seriously, whether it involves individuals or employers who refuse to make payments. Children are entitled to be taken care of by both parents regardless of whether or not they are still together. If you are having trouble collecting child support from your former spouse contact, reach out to our experienced DuPage County family law attorneys today for a consultation on your case.


How Does Discovery Work in an Illinois Divorce?

discovery, Wheaton divorce lawyers“Discovery” is a common term that means something very different to attorneys than the general public. While television shows like to cover the initial filing of a lawsuit and the trial, rarely does the media portray the slower-paced discovery process that occurs in between the beginning and ending of a case. After a divorce case is filed, and the respondent files an answer to the petition for dissolution of the marriage, the attorneys begin the discovery process of exchanging information with each other to facilitate a resolution to the case.

What is Discovery in a Divorce Case?

Discovery can consist of several different processes and associated terms. These include:

  • Request for Production of Documents – This involves requesting documents that are relevant to the case. In a divorce case, typical documents that must be produced are financial records such as bank statements and tax returns.
  • Subpoenas Duces Tecum – A subpoena duces tecum is similar to a request for production of documents, but it comes from the court. Typically these are issued if the other side is being uncooperative with a request, as failure to respond to a subpoena duces tecum can result in being held in contempt of court.
  • Interrogatories – These are written questions about the case that must be answered under oath. These questions are used to clarify information that has been discovered through other means, or to prepare for a deposition.
  • Requests to Admit – These are similar to interrogatories, but rather than ask direct questions, these are statements that the other party must admit or deny to help narrow the key issues in the case as it progresses.
  • Depositions – This is one area of the discovery process that many people are familiar with. A deposition is testimony given under oath during which opposing counsel may question the other side. Depositions are similar to a trial, but without a judge or jury present. Inconsistent testimony given during a deposition may also be admissible at trial.

The Importance of Discovery in Illinois Divorce Cases

Discovery is important because it can help narrow down the issues in a case. Many facts are stipulated to during discovery, and often this leads to a settlement, as very few divorce cases actually proceed to a trial before a judge. Discovery is especially important in cases where assets may be hidden, as it is often the only legal remedy that a party has to attempt to find these assets before the divorce is finalized. If a divorce is approved by a court without those assets being discovered, it can be extremely difficult to have the divorce decree modified.

Contact an Experienced Attorney

An experienced family law attorney can assist you during the discovery process in a divorce case and fight for your best interests when it comes to issues like splitting property, spousal support, and child custody. If you are filing for divorce or have already been served with divorce papers, contact our dedicated DuPage County family law attorneys today to learn how we can be of assistance.