Controlled Financial Expert Witnesses in Divorce

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Controlled Financial Witness in a Chicago Divorce

The issues that are involved with property division in a Chicago divorce may be extremely complex. Getting to a settlement that treats both spouses fairly is not always cut and dried. Depending on the circumstances, a spouse, or the court itself may summon a controlled financial witness in a divorce case – known more colloquially as an expert financial witness.

A fair settlement in a Cook County divorce case may well depend on the quality of expert witness testimony. Arami Law has a deep background in finance and networks with the kind of witnesses who may be able to help. 

Call our Chicago Metro office at (312) 584-6355 or contact us online to set up a consultation.

When Do I Need a Controlled Financial Witness in a Chicago Divorce?

To understand the role of the expert financial witness, let’s take a brief step back and explain Illinois’ property division law. The first step in property division is to determine what is separate property and what is marital property.

Separate property is that which a spouse owned prior to the marriage. Marital property covers assets that were obtained after the wedding day. Separate property reverts entirely back to the spouse who originally owned it. Marital property is subject to equitable division under Illinois law.

The painting a spouse owned prior to the marriage and has been hanging over the mantle will likely be called separate property. The house that the couple went out and bought together will be marital property. 

Those situations are reasonably simple and could likely be settled without expert testimony from a third party. But others are more complicated. Consider the following…

The Value of a Home

One spouse owned a house prior to the marriage. The decision was made that the couple would live there after the wedding. It’s separate property. But over the duration of the marriage, they put on a new deck, installed new plumbing, and built out additional living space. All of these factors have made the house considerably more valuable, and they were likely done using marital funds.

A controlled financial witness in this case might be a real estate appraiser who will decide just how much the house has increased in value. The value of the increase will become a part of overall settlement negotiations.

The Value of a Business

One spouse owned a business prior to the marriage and still owns it at the time of divorce. A controlled financial witness may very well be necessary to determine the value of the business. This is something more complex than just looking at annual gross revenue. The true value of a business can also include equipment, intellectual property, the future potential of a customer base, and much more.

Furthermore, if the divorce is contentious, the non-business owning spouse might believe that the value of the enterprise is being deliberately reduced for the purpose of the divorce. Methods of doing this might be leaving invoices uncollected, taking on less work, and other tactics that will serve to understate the current value of the business. Expert witness testimony can shed light on this for the court.

The Value of Stocks

One or both spouses had a 401(k) account or stock portfolio that they brought into the marriage. As it stands, that’s separate property. Funds that were clearly marital property were continually added to these investments. How do you distinguish marital property from separate property? 

An expert witness can testify to how much the original stock grew because of cumulative interest, thereby making the investment of marital property (any money earned after the wedding day) more valuable than it might initially appear. A controlled financial witness can also provide evidence regarding whether the funds are ones whose biggest years are still ahead. All of which can involve substantial amounts of money that has to be negotiated in the property division.

Financial Expertise Matters

Expertise is important. Controlled financial witnesses can be vital to how a settlement is ultimately worked out. With a legal and financial education from Chicago’s finest institutions, Attorney Arami has now spent over 15 years fighting for people in the real world of the Cook County legal system. He can fight for you in your divorce settlement.

Call Arami Law at (312) 584-6355 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.

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