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How is Marital Property Divided in an Illinois Divorce?

Illinois law governs many aspects of divorce, including how spouses should divide their property. Illinois has an “equitable distribution” law, which means that all marital property should be divided in a fair manner, given each spouse’s circumstances. You might believe that this means you need to divide everything down the middle, but most spouses do not divide their marital property 50/50. Instead, there are several factors that should be considered when determining your property and asset division.

Common Factors in Property Division Matter

When possible, it is usually beneficial to reach an agreement regarding property division without going to court. If you cannot agree and the court needs to make your property division determination for you, they do not necessarily divide your property evenly. Instead, the judge should consider what is fair in light of several factors. These include

  • Your separate property – While you must divide your marital property, each spouse will keep their own separate property. This can include property you brought into the marriage and gifts or inheritance in your name only that you kept separate from marital funds. If one spouse has significantly more separate property than the other, the judge can consider this when awarding marital property.
  • Your earning power – If one spouse earns substantially more than the other, it can put them in a better financial position after a divorce. To balance out the situation, the judge may award more property to the spouse who earns less, especially if their diminished earning power is due to staying home with children or other contributions to the marriage.
  • Contributions to the marital property – The judge will examine how each spouse contributed and helped acquire the marital property. This means financial and practical contributions, such as providing household support while your spouse earned an advanced degree or worked long hours to promote their career.
  • Other relevant factors – A judge can consider any factors they deem relevant to the situation. This can include the spouses’ age, mental and physical health, whether one spouse has primary custody of the children, whether one spouse will receive spousal support, and more.

Some divorce cases might have additional considerations, including a prenuptial agreement. For example, if you and your spouse signed a prenuptial agreement, it might dictate who will get certain property. As long as the court finds the agreement to be enforceable, the property will be distributed in accordance with the agreement. If your spouse paid for gifts, hotel rooms, vacations, or other costly things for their affair, it should factor into your property division determination.

Learn How a Divorce Lawyer in Chicago Can Help You

Hammer Serna & Quinn, LLC advises clients about the many aspects of divorce, including property division. If you would like to discuss your situation with a Chicago divorce attorney, contact us directly for a consultation.

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