Navigating property division

Property division is often one of the most common causes of disputes in a divorce. With Illinois being an equitable division state, there is a lot of room for negotiation or disagreement on who should get what.

Dividing your finances, your home and even your bills may be difficult, but you do not have to go into the process uninformed or unprepared. Here are some tips and quick facts about property division.


Steps to dividing property

Illinois law outlines many details involved in the property division process, but the three essential steps are to: 

  1. Determine what is marital property: Marital property is anything you and your spouse owned together during the marriage. This could include your home, vehicles, joint bank accounts and even retirement plans. Anything you owned before the marriage is separate property, and not subject to division.
  2. Value the property: This is generally the most important step of property division. Since Illinois is an equitable distribution state, the value of the property is usually how courts determine fair division between spouses.
  3. Divide assets: The marital settlement agreement outlines the official arrangement of property division.

How does equitable distribution work?

Equitable distribution means that all marital property is divided fairly. That does not necessarily mean divided equally. 

To divide property as equitably as possible, the courts consider many different factors, including:

  • Value of the property
  • Length of your marriage
  • Incomes of both spouses
  • Needs of both spouses

However, if you and your spouse can agree on how to divide your marital property, there is actually no need to engage in the process of equitable distribution. Equitable distribution is the policy courts use if there are disputes in regarding property division.

Preparation is the best strategy

The prospect of dividing property can cause a lot of stress and frustration. So, many people want to know the best way through it.

Unfortunately, there is no single strategy for property division that works best for all divorcing couples. Everyone's situation is unique. However, going into the process prepared can help make it a little easier for everyone involved.

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