When you and your spouse decide to get a divorce, one of the main things on your minds will likely be property division. Your marital assets will be divided equitably—fairly, not necessarily equally. However, there are disputes very often about the larger assets, such as houses, cars and recreational vehicles. While each case is different, if you understand the law surrounding asset division, you may stand a better chance of retaining the assets you wish to keep.
The Marital Home
The biggest asset for many is the marital home. Some couples simply agree as to its disposition; others fight bitterly. There are many different ways that you may be able to decide who gets the house or how to divide the equity in the home. One is referred to as ‘deferred distribution,’ where the home is held by one spouse until a significant event occurs—for example, any minor children reaching adulthood—and only then is sold. This can be advantageous, especially if you have children, because they still get to grow up in the place they know as their family home.
Another common method is for the court to simply award the home to one spouse and consequently award them fewer of the smaller, more fungible assets. Illinois courts will do so, if the home falls under the rubric of marital property, after weighing several factors including:
- The economic situation of each spouse;
- Any alleged dissipation of marital assets;
- The duration of the marriage;
- The amount each spouse contributed to obtaining the asset in question; and
- Any obligations detailed in a prenuptial agreement or similar document signed by both parties.
So, for example, if you contributed the lion’s share toward the purchase of your marital home, and you receive no spousal support or maintenance, those would not be the only factors considered in awarding the home, but both would be significant points in your favor.
Other Significant Assets
The procedure for dividing assets like automobiles or antiques is similar to that for the marital home, though there are some marked differences. For example, in Illinois, it is much less likely to get deferred distribution when dealing with assets that are not homes. However, division will still occur according to the list of factors laid out in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. If you as a couple purchased a car during the marriage, but the court deems that the most equitable way to divide marital property is to sell it, it will be sold, and you will receive the appropriate amount.
Be advised that while marital property is divided equitably in Illinois, marital debt is divided the same way. Thus, it is conceivable that you could wind up on the proverbial hook for debt that is not technically yours if it is ruled marital debt. If you cosigned on any loan your spouse took out, you may also be held liable if he or she are unwilling or unable to pay.
An Experienced Attorney Can Help Clarify
Divorce can be extremely disconcerting and confusing even for the most intelligent of people. It is often best to have an experienced legal professional on your side in order to answer questions and help guide you through the process of divorce and asset distribution. Contact a skilled Wheaton divorced attorney to get the guidance you need. Call 630-871-1002 for a free consultation at any one of our three locations.