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How is property divided in an Illinois divorce?

If this is your first time going through a divorce, then you probably have a number of questions about what to expect throughout the course of the process and how to make sure that you are getting the best outcome possible. Because of the complexity of the law both here in Illinois and across the country, most people direct their questions to a skilled family law attorney. With the topic we are about to present below, the same sentiment is also true.

Consider for a moment all of the property you have gained over the course of your marriage. When you divorce, you property, assets and even your debts will need to be distributed between you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse. But how is property divided in an Illinois divorce, you might ask? Through equitable distribution.

Equitable distribution, which is a type of property division practiced in many states across the nation, divides property into two categories: marital and personal property. Anything acquired before the marriage -- and sometimes even during the marriage -- is considered personal property and is awarded to the appropriate spouse. Any property acquired during the marriage -- with a few exceptions of course -- is considered marital property.

It's important to note that just because it's called equitable distribution this does not mean that everything is divided 50/50 when you divorce. Instead, Illinois courts make the decision about how to divide things equitably. This is done by considering a number of factors including, but not limited to:

  • Length of marriage
  • Contribution of each spouse to the marital property
  • Tax consequences when distributing property
  • The age and health of each spouse
  • Economic circumstances of each spouse both before and after divorce

Though we may appear to have made the process look easy, in some cases, this is far from the truth. High-asset couples or those who have complicated business ventures may encounter difficulty when it comes to property division, which is one more reason why seeking help from a lawyer may be necessary.

Source: FindLaw, "Illinois Marital Property Laws," Accessed Feb. 17, 2015

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