Dividing property in an Illinois divorce

Illinois is an equitable division of property state and distributes property after considering several factors surrounding the divorce case.

When couples file for divorce in Illinois, they must negotiate and settle several issues, including child support, parenting time, alimony and property division. Distributing property that a couple has amassed over the course of a marriage can be daunting, especially when spouses have emotional ties to certain items. In some cases, the dispute between who gets what can get heated.

Equitable distribution

According to the American Bar Association, Illinois follows an equitable distribution model of property division. Under this model, marital property is divided in a fair and reasonable manner, rather than split exactly in half like it would be in a community property state. The court-appointed judge who is over the case can use his or her discretion to determine the division of property and assets. He or she may consider several factors before making this crucial decision and finalizing it in the divorce settlement. The Illinois General Assembly lists the following contributing factors:

  • Whether each spouse contribute to the acquisition of the property, as well as the upkeep and increase or decrease of the property's value?
  • The length of the marriage
  • Whether either party has obligations stemming from a prior marriage
  • Each party's financial status, occupation, age, health, ability to find employment and liabilities
  • Whether there are children involved in the divorce
  • The tax consequences of the property and/or assets

In some cases, the judge may look at whether either spouse put their job or education on hold in order to contribute to the education and/or career status of the other spouse.

Separate vs. marital property

Not all property is considered eligible for division in a divorce settlement. Separate property includes any property that was owned by a spouse before the marriage, as well as a gift or inheritance given to a spouse by a third-party before or during the marriage. If, however, the property is retitled to include the other spouse's name or the separate assets are mixed in with marital assets, the property and/or assets may become marital, according to Forbes.

Marital assets, on the other hand, encompasses everything that was acquired during the marriage. This includes insurance policies, 401K plans, vacation homes, golf club memberships, travel rewards points and even expensive collections.

Finding a knowledgeable family attorney

When going through a divorce, it may be extremely difficult to make crucial decisions that will affect the rest of your life. You may want to speak to an experienced Illinois attorney about your legal rights and options when it comes to filing for divorce. A lawyer may be able to point you in the right direction and help you get what you are entitled to in the divorce settlement.