Building a life together as a married couple inevitably involves the accumulation of personal assets. The time and effort it took to financially afford and personally choose these items cannot be measured in dollars alone. Facing the prospect of dividing years of memories and hard work these items represent due to divorce requires some ability to look at this situation with objective eyes. Neither should expect to get everything they want.
Part of this evaluation is having a realistic sense of what percentage of marital property each spouse should expect to receive, and Illinois is not a community property state that guarantees each spouse 50 percent of all property. Instead, it follows equitable distribution rules that base property division in divorce on what is most fair under the circumstances, which creates a vague standard that is at the discretion of the judge. As a result, spouses should make all efforts to mutually agree on property division, so the outcome is known, but also having an understanding of how courts view this issue and the process judges use to formulate a settlement is important as well.
Property Division Laws
One of the most important things to understand about property division in an Illinois divorce is that only marital property may be divided. Non-marital property, including inheritances, gifts, and property owned before marriage by one spouse and kept separate, remain with the person who purchased or received these assets. Further, Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, so the misconduct of a spouse during marriage, outside of using marital funds for non-marital purposes, will not factor into a court’s analysis of property division. Instead, the judge will work through a long list of prescribed factors to determine which allocation of assets and liabilities would be most fair. Some of these factors include:
- The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, accumulation or increase and decrease in value of marital property, including spouses who stayed at home and took care of the household;
- Dissipation or waste of marital property by either spouse;
- The property’s value;
- The length of the marriage;
- The economic circumstances for each party as a result of the property division;
- The ability of each spouse to generate income;
- The parenting responsibilities of each spouse; and
- The tax consequences of the property division.
Facilitating a Better Property Settlement
As mentioned, the best way to handle this issue is to decide how to divide assets and liabilities privately, but even if a court is asked to settle the distribution, there are things a person can do to put them in a better position. First, organize finances before the divorce even begins, which will allow a spouse to know what they have. In addition, figure out a budget that takes into account the cost of litigating this issue, as well as the amount of resources one will need after the divorce to survive financially. Finally, make sure the tax consequences of any property settlement, as well as support obligations, are fully understood for post-divorce purposes so that a spouse does not end up financially underwater due to lack of planning.
Speak to a Wheaton, IL Divorce Attorney
Dividing your property is both an emotional and financial experience that is hard to navigate alone. Save your stress by working with an experienced divorce attorney. The skilled DuPage County family law attorneys at the Andrew Cores Family Law Group know the implications and obstacles of forming a property settlement and can provide the guidance you need to get the best possible result. Contact us at 630-871-1008 for a free consultation.