When a couple decides to divorce, there are often issues that become contentious between the two. Even couples who both agree to end the marriage can become tangled up in settlement issues. Of the many settlement matters, financial issues are at the top of the list for most people.
While couples are together, they may not give much thought to their finances, but when it’s time to split assets, property division can become extremely controversial. State laws govern how property is to be divided when a couple ends their marriage. Our experienced Algonquin divorce lawyers understand Illinois property division laws and will work to ensure that you receive a fair settlement in your divorce.
What is Equitable Distribution?
Equitable distribution in divorce means that the court will divide property in a manner that is equitable or fair to both parties. Equitable distribution is not the same as a 50/50 split. Some states use a 50/50 split for property division in divorce. The main difference is that in an equitable distribution the court will evaluate the fairness of the division of assets rather than simply dividing the assets down the middle.
This method of asset distribution is considered to be the fairest option for both parties. Both spouses have contributed to the marital assets in different ways and this will all be reviewed when the couple divides property when the marriage ends.
Almost everything that you and your spouse acquire when you are married is considered marital property. Marital property includes money in bank accounts, vehicles, homes, furniture, artwork, sports equipment, boats, appliances, and more. It doesn’t matter whether you purchased the items with money one of you made or both of you made, the items are still a property that, legally speaking, belongs to both of you. If you are getting divorced, you will want to make a list of all of your assets such as property and bank accounts so you can make sure that the property will be distributed in a fair manner.
There are some types of assets that may not be considered marital property, even if you acquired them during the marriage. For instance, if you received an inheritance or a gift that was made specifically to you, it may not be part of marital property. The rules regarding marital property can be complex, so it is best to consult with knowledgeable Algonquin divorce lawyers to discuss the specific details of your situation.
What are Hidden Assets?
Some divorces can be contentious and there are situations either spouse tries to hide assets. They may do this to try and keep more than their fair share of marital property. Some examples of hidden assets are offshore bank accounts, purchases of property that are kept from the other spouse, or hiding property in a different location to name just a few.
Illinois law requires spouses to provide full disclosure of all assets, including both marital and non-marital assets. A financial affidavit is a legal document that is used in the determination of property division in Illinois. If a spouse is found to have hidden assets, it could reduce the assets that the spouse may receive.
Factors To Consider in Property Division in Illinois
There are several factors that will be the focus of consideration when determining property division in Illinois.
- Each Spouse’s Contribution to Marital Property
Generally, the court will look at the amount of money brought into the marriage and the debts incurred by each spouse. Marriage is similar to a business partnership and therefore, the law looks at both person’s contributions, positive and negative. It is important to note that a homemaker’s contribution may also be taken into consideration.
- Value of Assets
The court will review the property values of the assets of the couple. In particular, if one spouse came into the marriage with a significantly larger number of assets, it will likely indicate a larger share of the total asset distribution.
- Length of the Marriage
The length of the marriage may be a factor when determining property division in an Illinois dissolution of marriage. For example, in a marriage of long duration, the homemaking contribution may be weighed more heavily than in a shorter marriage. This prevents someone from divorcing after a short marriage only to try to seek a large windfall.
- Family Economic Circumstances
The law takes an interest in making sure that families, especially children, will have the same standard of living following divorce as they did during the marriage. The marital home, for example, might be held by both parents until the children reach majority. Then, the couple may sell the home or one may purchase the other’s portion.
- Ages and Health of Each Spouse
The age and health of each spouse will be part of the evaluation process. The educational background, previous employment status, and future earning ability may be part of the consideration when distributing assets in a divorce.
- Maintenance Payments
Maintenance payments, sometimes called alimony, is money paid from one spouse to the other to ensure an adequate standard of living. Rather than paying maintenance, one spouse may receive more assets in a settlement to accommodate this need.
Does Marital Misconduct Matter?
Marital misconduct may have occurred during the marriage and might be attributed to one or both parties. The most common type of marital misconduct is an extramarital affair. In some states, marital misconduct is a factor that may make a difference in property division. In Illinois, marital misconduct does not matter when it comes to an equitable property division in divorce. Even if a spouse has been found to have committed marital misconduct, it will not impact the way property is to be divided. Skilled Algonquin divorce attorneys will review the matter to help you understand the potential consequences.
How Does A Prenuptial Agreement Impact Property Division?
Prenuptial agreements are recognized as valid as part of the Illinois Uniform Premarital Agreement Act. A prenuptial agreement is an important part of property division, particularly in community property states. Although Illinois is not a community property state, a prenuptial agreement may still be very critical. A prenup can outline specific property that is to be considered premarital property. The prenup can be used to assign specific property as marital property even if it was acquired prior to marriage. The prenup can also protect assets that were part of a prior marriage.
Contact Our Algonquin Divorce Lawyers
Dissolving a marriage is not always easy, particularly when the couple has acquired a number of assets throughout the years. While property division is to be done in an equitable manner, you need to make sure that you receive a fair share. Our skilled legal team understands the complexities that are involved in the division of property. We are here to guide the process and ensure that you get your fair share in a divorce. To discuss your divorce, contact the Algonquin divorce lawyers at Bruning & Associates at (815) 455-3000.