When people get married, they often want their marriage to last a lifetime. Unfortunately, some marriages end in divorce after the social aspects have irretrievably broken down. The most difficult and disputable part of divorce is splitting property between the estranged partners. There are two regimes of property distribution, namely:
Community property: which is commonly known as 50-50 distribution, involves equal sharing of property between the parties.
Equitable distribution: as suggested by the name, the court aims at distributing the properties fairly between the parties.
How is property divided in Illinois?
Illinois has adopted the equitable distribution model. Before the property is distributed, there are several factors that the court will consider. These include:
- Whether the couple jointly contributed toward the acquisition of the property.
- If the marriage had children, then the courts would consider the welfare and best interest of the children. Therefore, to avoid disruption of their lives, the court will order the distribution of property that reasonably favors those children.
- The court will look at the status of the parties. If one partner were working while the other was a stay-at-home spouse, the court would consider that arrangement while distributing the property.
- The length of the marriage is also an essential factor that the courts consider before distributing the property.
What is not considered marital property?
After a divorce, only marital property or joint property is distributed between the parties. However, property that separately belonged to each party is not subject to property division. So what properties aren’t considered marital property? These include:
Property protected under a prenuptial agreement.
Essentially, a prenuptial agreement is a legally binding document signed by prospective spouses before marriage. The prenup stipulates how a couple should share the property in case of a divorce. Prenups are legally enforceable unless a party can prove that they signed it under duress, or it would be unconscionable to enforce it.
Property acquired before marriage.
For this property to be excluded, there should be some qualification; that is, the property is still in the partner’s name and no attempt was made to make it joint property.
Property acquired after legal separation.
Divorce is not an instantaneous activity; it is a process. Before the parties formally divorce, they first become legally separated. During this period, any property that the parties acquire shall not be considered as marital property.
Should you hide property during a divorce?
High-asset divorce can be quite emotive. However, it would help if you resisted the urge to hide property, as it is illegal to do so. Consequently, even property that would otherwise be solely yours will be divided between you and your estranged spouse.