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The Principle of Equitable Distribution

 Posted on May 04, 2016 in Division of Property in Illinois

equitable distribution, Joliet divorce lawyersFor most couples, the decision to pursue a divorce is not one that is made overnight. In fact, the vast majority of such decisions are the product of months or years of soul-searching and, in certain cases, waiting for the right time. If you are thinking about ending your marriage, for whatever reasons you may have, you are probably starting to realize that divorce is not as simple as a high school or college break-up. Rather, it is complicated undertaking that requires careful consideration regarding a wide variety of subjects. Among the most difficult of these concerns is often the division of marital property, as many people are unfamiliar with the laws that govern the process.

Common Misconceptions

Thanks to modern entertainment media, the general public tends to believe that, in a divorce, each spouse is entitled to half of the marital estate regardless of their situation. The only exception to this “rule,” in many minds, is if the couple had a valid prenuptial agreement that made different arrangements. While a 50/50 split may seem logical in some cases, Illinois law does not make any guarantees regarding an equal allocation of marital property.

Equitable Distribution

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) essentially governs the entire divorce process, including the distribution of marital property. According to the IMDMA, when divorcing spouses cannot reach a voluntary agreement regarding asset division, the court “shall divide the marital property without regard to marital misconduct in just proportions considering all relevant factors.” This concept is known as equitable distribution, which focuses on a fair outcome, not necessarily an equal one.

Relevant Factors

In dividing the marital estate, the court must look at all of the circumstances surrounding the marriage and pending divorce. The IMDMA requires the court to specifically consider certain factors, including:

  • Each spouse's contribution to the marital estate, including the efforts of a stay-at-home spouse or parent;
  • Any marital assets dissipated (wasted) by either spouse;
  • The value of allocated property;
  • The length of the marriage;
  • The way in which the allocation of property will affect the post-divorce life of each spouse;
  • The age, health, employability, and resources of each spouse;
  • Provisions being made for the spouses' children;
  • Provisions being made for spousal maintenance or if additional property should be awarded instead; and
  • Any valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.

The statutory list is not intended to be all-inclusive, and the court may take into account any other factors deemed to be equitable.

Get the Help You Need

If you are thinking about divorce, it is important to work with a legal professional with the knowledge and skill to guide you through the complicated process. Contact an experienced Will County divorce lawyer at the Law Offices of Tedone and Morton, P.C. today. We will meet with you to discuss your needs and help you take the steps necessary to secure a happier tomorrow. Call 815-666-1285 or 815-733-5350 to schedule an appointment.


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