How Does Equitable Division Work in Illinois?

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How Does Equitable Division Work in Illinois?

Married people often acquire quite a bit of property together with their spouses. All of this property must be divided up equitably during a divorce.  Everything from the furniture to the marital home must be somehow divided in this process. Many spouses share retirement accounts or joint investments during their marriage that may be challenging to split fairly.

It is important to note that “equitable division” does not mean that all marital property is split evenly, with each spouse taking exactly one half. Illinois aims to distribute marital assets in the way that is most fair, which may not mean an even split.

How Do Illinois Courts Decide Whether a Property Division Plan is Equitable?

There are a number of factors the court will consider when deciding how assets should be divided to be fair to both spouses. You and your spouse’s respective situations and needs will be considered, as well as your contributions to the marriage. The judge may consider:

  • Contributions – Both economic contributions as a provider and noneconomic contributions as a homemaker count as valuable contributions to the marriage. The court may also consider whether marital funds were used for one spouse’s debts.
  • Earning potential – If one spouse is unable to work and earn enough to maintain their lifestyle, they may have a greater need to keep marital property. This factor often applies to longtime homemakers who would have difficulty getting back to work. Age, health, and ability to work are relevant here.
  • Theft or dissipation – In situations where one spouse has taken and hidden or foolishly spent marital funds, the court will often try to “pay back” the innocent spouse in equitable distribution.
  • Child considerations – The court will also want to consider the best interests of any children involved. Where the children will primarily be living and what their needs and expenses are is an important factor.
  • Prenuptial agreements – If there is a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in place and it is enforceable, this contract may control quite a bit of the distribution of marital property.
  • Length of the marriage – How long the couple was married may affect how their joint property should be divided. Property divisions can be less complicated for shorter marriages if the spouses have not acquired significant joint property and largely remember who owned what household item before the marriage. Division can be far more complicated for divorce after long-term marriages, as nearly all of the spouses’ assets may be jointly held by then.

The equitable distribution of property is often one of the more contentious parts of any divorce, especially when one or both parties hold high-value property. You will want a practiced attorney advocating on your behalf.

Source: https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/documents/075000050k503.htm

Contact an Illinois Divorce Attorney

If you are facing a divorce, you are not alone. Reifman Law Offices is experienced at handling all types of divorce cases, from those that can be resolved amicably through mediation to those that require extensive litigation. There is no challenge our Schaumburg divorce lawyers cannot tackle in a divorce. Call us at 847-229-8433 to arrange a free consultation.

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