While it is true that every divorce case is different, there is one common issue that most parties going through the process will face:
- Addressing the property that you share
- Divvying up these items according to state divorce laws
There are generally two legal approaches to assets in divorce:
- Community property
- Equitable distribution
Illinois falls into the second category. In general, the process for dividing assets under Illinois equitable distribution statute revolves around the concept of fairness. However, the underlying details make property division more complex than you might expect.
You should trust a Chicago divorce attorney to walk you through the details that impact your unique situation, but you can read on for keys to understanding equitable division in Illinois divorce.
Marital Versus Separate Property
The initial step in dealing with assets in divorce is classifying items as marital or non-marital, i.e., separately owned by an individual spouse. The default rule is that anything acquired after the date of the wedding belongs to both spouses and will be subject to equitable distribution in divorce. Note that property is also considered part of the marital estate if either party acquired it after filing for divorce, but before the final judgment on dissolution of marriage.
Equitable Distribution Factors
After categorizing assets as marital, the next analysis is dividing them or their respective value between the parties to the divorce case. The notion behind equitable distribution is divvying up real and personal property in a way that promotes fairness. It does NOT require a 50-50 split. Factors for determining equitable distribution include:
- The length of the marriage.
- Each spouse’s general employability, economic status, and ability to be self-supporting.
- Whether one spouse will receive alimony.
- Any actions by one spouse to waste or dissipate marital property.
- Tax matters.
- Many other considerations.
Do Not Overlook Marital Debts
The Illinois statute on asset division specifically states that equitable division also applies to the financial and legal obligations a couple incurs during their marriage.
Strategies for Resolving Property Distribution
Illinois divorce laws encourage parties to agree on divorce issues, so a judge will likely approve asset division based upon mutual agreement. Mediation is also an option for resolving property disputes, as some parties are able to work out a compromise when guided by a trained mediator.
In the absence of an agreement, the court must hold a contested hearing on property division. The judge will first evaluate marital versus non-marital assets, and then apply the equitable distribution factors to issue a finding.
A Chicago Divorce Attorney Can Explain Details
A summary of the laws is helpful for understanding the basics about Illinois equitable distribution, but it is wise to retain skilled legal counsel for a real-life divorce case.
Whether you work things out by agreement or go to court for resolution of asset division, representation is critical for protecting your rights. For additional details, please contact Chicago divorce attorney Michael C. Craven today. You can call the Chicago divorce lawyer to schedule your no-obligation consultation at (312) 621-5234.
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