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Property Division in Illinois—The Basics

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property division, divorce, lawyer, attorney, divorce lawyer, family law, One of the most difficult challenges during divorce is the separation of assets, or the division of property. Not only can this be an especially emotional aspect of the proceedings—because it forces the couple to go through their lives together piece by piece and literally split it apart—but expensive as well.

Illinois is an equitable distribution state, meaning that marital property is split evenly between the spouses, regardless of whose name is on ownership papers (ie: the deed to the house). According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, there are several factors taken into consideration for equitable distribution. These include, but are not limited to:

  • The contribution of each party to the acquisition or preservation to the value of the marital or non-marital property (“including the contribution of a spouse as a homemaker or to the family unit”);
  • Value of property assigned to each spouse;
  • Duration of marriage;
  • Premarital agreements;
  • Obligations arising from a previous marriage of either party;
  • The reasonable opportunity of each spouse for future acquisition of capital assets and income.

It is important to note that only marital property will be considered for equitable distribution. Separate property in Illinois, according to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, is considered anything acquired before the marriage or an inheritance. Yet, as per the specifications above, if a spouse moved into the other's home upon marriage, and the contribution of both spouses during the marriage added value to the home, the home may be considered marital property.

Equitable distribution of marital property was initiated in order to ensure that even the non-primary earner in the relationship had a chance to maintain a similar lifestyle enjoyed during the marriage. In the past, for example, a wife's name was rarely on the title to a shared automobile. With equitable distribution, if the automobile is acquired during the marriage, it would be considered marital property.

If you or someone you know is considering divorce in Illinois and have questions about property division or any other reason, don't go through it alone. Contact an experienced Illinois family law attorney today.

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