As you head toward divorce, you may have many questions about how a judge might divide your assets. In addition to your own financial security, you may worry about how you will continue to provide for your children.
In Illinois, the courts divide shared marital assets according to a rule of “equitable distribution”. However, a judge may not divide property that either of you owns separately.
1. Marital property is subject to division
Under Illinois law, assets that either you or your spouse earned or obtained during your marriage are marital property and subject to division during your divorce. Marital assets can include financial property, such as accounts and investments, as well as physical property like real estate, furniture or vehicles.
2. Separate property remains separate
You or your spouse may have ownership of separate property that you have not mixed with shared assets. Property that you acquired before you married, personal inheritances and personal gifts are examples of assets that the court might not divide during your divorce.
3. “Equitable distribution” means the division may not be equal
Illinois is an equitable distribution state. Rather than split marital assets equally, the judge attempts to divide property according to what he or she thinks is fair. Factors the court considers include financial and non-financial contributions each of you made to the family, your individual earning abilities, your children’s care needs and the length of your marriage.
If you and your spouse agree on how to divide your marital property, you may be able to settle your divorce outside of court. However, if you believe your spouse is demanding too much or that he or she is hiding assets, you may need to litigate to protect your own financial future as well as your children’s.