When people call us looking for an Illinois divorce attorney recommendation, we have a basic set of questions that we go through before learning about what is unique about their case or any special concerns they have. These questions can lead to more questions and also some advice.
It’s normal for us to ask how long you’ve been married, if you have kids, how old they are and what you and your spouse do for a living. The reason we want to know what your job is has to do with the fact that it could affect the type of lawyer you need. If you get a 401(k) or a pension, you need an attorney that knows how to handle a QDRO (qualified domestic relief order) which in plain English is how those benefits get divided up.
If you or your spouse owns a business and it was started during the marriage, that also can affect the type of lawyer that you need. Any business started during the marriage is a marital asset and without a prenup you own half and your spouse owns half. This makes sense when we think of someone who has started a restaurant or any other type of traditional business. It doesn’t always seem as obvious when your spouse is a doctor.
In 15 years of helping people find the right Illinois divorce attorney for their case, many spouses of doctors don’t realize that they are married to someone who owns a business. But when you support someone through medical school and/or residency and they leave you right before or after they start making a real living in private practice, the courts in Illinois have recognized that has value and as a supportive spouse you are potentially entitled to a great part of their income.
When doctors go in to private practice they are in most situations becoming a business owner. In fact, many doctors’ offices are really just a group of doctors who call themselves partners, but in reality just share office expenses. Their pay is usually dependent on how much work they produce. It doesn’t seem like a business in the traditional sense, but whether their career is just taking off or they’ve been doing it for a while, it’s a business. If it started during the marriage, it’s a marital asset.
When you divorce a business owner, whether it’s a doctor or anyone else, if the business is successful or has great potential to be, you need to hire a divorce attorney who handles forensic accounting as part of their case work. That means that they have experience in determining what a business is really worth. Your spouse might say that they only made $100,000.00 for example. But a closer look might show that they had one time expenditures of a half a million (e.g. if you start a radiology group there are many machines you’d need to buy) or some other number. Forensic accounting show the true value of a business which helps figure out what you are owed.
Even if the business was started before the marriage, knowing how to properly value a business can help determine what child support payments or maintenance (often referred to as alimony) should be. Having the wrong law firm in your corner could literally cost you tens of thousands of dollars or more.
We have been helping people find the right attorney for the their case since 2001 and would be happy to help you find the right firm for you. Call us at (312) 346-5320 for a no cost, confidential consultation.