In divorce cases, marital assets are divided between spouses. However, dividing assets in a divorce isn’t a matter of splitting everything down the middle. Under Illinois law, the property division process in divorce cases requires an in-depth evaluation of various factors to ensure that the apportionment is equitable in light of the relevant circumstances.
Property Division Under Equitable Distribution
In the U.S., there are two systems of property division when it comes to divorce cases. Some states adhere to principles of “equitable distribution” while other states follow the “community property” system of asset distribution. Illinois follows the “equitable distribution” system.
Under Illinois equitable distribution principles, all property acquired during marriage is “marital property” and must be divided equitably. Conversely, nonmarital property includes property that a party acquires during the marriage by gift, legacy, or descent, or property the parties agree to treat as non-marital property.
For example, consider someone who regularly acquires valuable collector’s items each month as a hobby and was married in August 2005. The collection up until August 2005 is not marital property. However, items in the collection that were acquired after the marriage in August 2005 are considered marital property.
Furthermore, imagine that our hypothetical spouse inherited a summer cabin in the mountains when their great uncle passed away. The summer cabin would qualify as that spouse’s nonmarital property.
Factors Under the Illinois Marriage and Marriage Dissolution Act
Property that qualifies as part of the marital estate is subject to equitable distribution upon divorce. “Equitable” distribution does not necessarily mean an equal division of the estate. The court must distribute assets included in the marital estate in a just and fair way.
Under Illinois law, courts are required to consider the following factors when determining what an “equitable” distribution of marital property is:
- Each party’s contributions to acquiring property
- Dissipation of the marital property by each party
- The value of the property
- The duration of the parties’ marriage
- The economic circumstances of the parties at the time property will be divided
- The obligations and rights of each party in connection with a previous marriage
- Any marital contracts the parties entered into
- The age, health, station, occupation, wealth, vocational ability, employability, estate, liabilities, and needs of the parties
- The custodial needs for any children
- If property division is conducted in place of or along with spousal support obligations
- Each party’s opportunity to acquire future assets and income
- The tax consequences of the proposed division for each party
Consult the Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C. for Legal Advice
If your divorce involves significant marital assets and property, such as trust funds, real estate, and investment accounts, it is highly recommended that you seek professional legal representation from an experienced attorney to ensure your property rights are preserved. At the Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C., our legal team can help you navigate the complex legal issues that arise during divorce, including property division matters.
Get quality legal representation - contact us at (312) 487-2795 today.