Illinois is an equitable division state for the purposes of divorce. Spouses ending their marriages must split assets fairly, but not necessarily equally.
Before filing for divorce, residents should review the state laws that apply to property division.
Understanding separate vs. marital property
Most assets and debts accrued by either party during the marriage, including wages and retirement accounts, constitute marital property. Separate property includes:
- Property established as separate in a prenuptial agreement
- Gifts or inheritances given to only one spouse during the marriage
- Property owned by one spouse prior to the marriage
However, if separate property increases in value during the marriage, that increase falls into the category of marital property.
Reviewing considerations in fair division
When spouses cannot reach a property agreement, they can ask the court to decide during their divorce proceedings. In this case, the judge will consider:
- Whether the couple had a prenuptial agreement
- Each person’s age, job status, current income and projected future income
- The tax consequences of the proposed property division arrangement for each spouse
- The terms of an existing child custody arrangement if applicable
- How each person contributed to the marriage, both financially and by caring for children and running the household
- The length of the marriage
- Whether either spouse wasted marital assets by gambling, using substances or having an extramarital affair
The court can order the immediate division of marital property or arrange for division over several months. Often, property division becomes complex when the couple shares significant assets. They may need a professional valuation to ensure that both spouses receive an equal share of the property they acquired together.