In a divorce, you not only lose your spouse but also much of your property. Everything from big assets to everyday belongings undergoes division between the two of you. This process can often be contentious and complex. Your spouse may even try to hide assets from you.
If you two can cooperate, you can decide on how to split your marital property through mediation or collaborative law, which will save you time and money. Otherwise, the court will decide based on Illinois laws of equitable distribution.
What does equitable distribution mean?
In most states, gone are the days of dividing everything in half. Most places, including Illinois, now distribute assets based on what is fair for each spouse to have depending on their circumstances, which likely does not mean a 50/50 split. Some assets you may each get a part of, such as retirement accounts, whereas others you may have to give up in exchange for something else.
For property that is separate, it may still be subject to division if one of you helped to increase (or decrease) its value during the marriage. This situation is common for spouses who own a business that existed before the marriage.
What determines equitable distribution?
Factors that influence the definition of fair include the following:
- The duration of your marriage
- The ability for each of you to earn income
- The contributions of each of you to marital assets and the family unit
- The age, health and needs of each of you
- The value and tax implications of assets
Children also play a significant role. The court will consider obligations not only to current children but also to those from previous relationships. If spousal support is applicable in your case, that may alter property division as well. If you have a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, the court will most likely abide by its terms.