One of the greatest challenges of getting a divorce is unraveling the years’ worth of property entanglement that has occurred by virtue of marriage. Indeed, it can be impossible to know who owns what, as in the majority of cases, both parties have invested in or contributed to the purchase of nearly all assets in a marriage. Which leads to the question: How does property division work in a divorce? Here’s what you need to know about property division laws in Illinois:
Illinois is an Equitable Division State that Recognizes Marital Property
Unlike community property states that require that property in a divorce is divided equally–which means a 50/50 split–Illinois is an equitable division state, which means that all property must be divided in a manner that is equitable, or fair, but not necessarily equal.
Further, the state also recognizes the concept of marital property, which refers to all property that was acquired during the course of the marriage. Separate property, on the other hand, is that property that was acquired before the marriage, or was acquired during the marriage in a specific manner, such as gift or inheritance. All marital property is subject to equitable division in a divorce.
Who Decides Who Gets What?
A divorcing couple is strongly encouraged to work together when determining how property will be divided. If the couple can come to an agreement on their own, then turning to the court for a decision is not necessary. This situation is ideal, as it cuts down on time and court costs, and typically results in a more civil relationship between the parties.
If a couple is unable to reach an agreement on their own, they may turn to the court for a judgement. The court will consider all relevant factors, including those outlined in 750 ILCS 5/503:
- Each party’s contribution to the acquisition of the assets;
- Duration of the marriage;
- Value of marital property;
- Economic circumstances of each party;
- Prenuptial or postnuptial agreements;
- Each party’s health, age, and occupation;
- Tax implications for each party; and
- Any other factors the court finds relevant.
Working with an Attorney to Improve the Outcome of Your Case
Property division cases during a divorce can be complicated. Not only may you feel as though something is yours and you should be entitled to it, but you may also have questions about being held liable for debt that you don’t believe is yours, whether or not your spouse has hidden assets, what your options are for dividing property (i.e. selling a house, buying your spouse’s share, etc.), and what the financial and tax ramifications of a property division settlement will be.
At the law offices of Fay, Farrow & Associates, P.C., our experienced Illinois divorce and property division attorneys have helped clients like you answer these questions and others over the years. We not only have the answers you’re looking for, but also know how to aggressively negotiate and build your case in order to secure an outcome that protects your best interests.
To schedule a consultation with our legal team, please call or email our offices today. We serve clients throughout Illinois, including the areas of Wheaton, Lombard, Lisle, Aurora, Downers Grove, and Naperville.