For many couples, dividing assets during divorce is the most complicated and conflict-filled aspect of the divorce process. This is especially true in Illinois, where the division of assets is governed by a mix of common law and statutory rules. If you are planning to divorce, you may have questions like, “Who keeps the house?” or “What happens to our bank accounts?” You may also have questions about complex assets like investments and retirement accounts or liabilities like student loan debt and credit card debt. This blog will cover some of the fundamental aspects of property division in Illinois divorce cases and what you can do if you need help classifying and dividing property during your divorce.
What is Mine and What is Ours?
Under Illinois law, almost all of the assets purchased or otherwise acquired by either spouse during the marriage are considered marital assets. Marital assets include any income earned by either spouse during the marriage as well as any assets that were acquired with that income. Examples of marital assets include houses, cars, furniture, cash, jewelry, collectibles, cryptocurrency, and anything else acquired during the marriage.
Assets acquired before the marriage or gifts and inheritances received by one spouse during the marriage are considered non-marital property. A spouse keeps his or her non-marital property and the marital property must be split between the spouses.
Who is Responsible for Debts?
Debts and liabilities are classified in the same manner as assets during divorce. Debts a spouse acquired before getting married are his or her sole responsibility. Debts incurred during the marriage are considered marital debt, and both spouses may be responsible for paying off those debts.
If you have a joint credit card or loan, you may be surprised to learn that each spouse is jointly and severally liable for the full amount of that debt even after the divorce. This means if one spouse fails to pay, the other spouse may still be held responsible.
Can We Decide How to Divide Property and Debt?
Spouses have the right to negotiate their own arrangement when it comes to asset and debt division during divorce. If a couple can agree on how to divide property and debt, they may choose to submit a property settlement agreement to the court. This is typically more economical than litigating these issues in court and allows each spouse the flexibility to create his or her own arrangement that works best for their particular circumstances. Divorcing spouses who want to handle asset division outside of the courtroom are encouraged to work with a lawyer who can guide them through the process and make sure their rights are protected.
How Does the Court Divide Property and Debt?
If spouses cannot agree on how to divide assets, the court will step in and make a decision for them. In Illinois, marital assets and debts are divided equitably (fairly) during divorce. This does not necessarily mean that all assets must be split 50-50 between the spouses. Instead, a judge will consider a number of factors to determine what type and how much of each asset or debt should go to each spouse. This includes factors like the length of the marriage, the income and earning power of each spouse, and any contributions made to the marriage by either party.
Contact our Joliet Divorce Lawyer
Property division in Illinois divorce is confusing and mistakes can be costly. If you are considering a divorce and need help navigating the process, contact our Will County divorce attorney for help. Call The Foray Firm at 312-702-1293 for a confidential initial consultation.