Unlike equal distribution states, where marital assets are divided right down the middle, Illinois is an equitable distribution state. This means that the marital estate is divided “fairly.” Of course, fair is an obscure term that can create a lot of confusion and contention. If you are filing for divorce in Illinois, learn what factors may be used to divide your assets and property, and how you can best ensure that you receive your fair share.
Marital Assets vs. Non-Marital Assets
The first step in dividing your property is to determine which assets are considered marital property, and which are excluded from the marital estate. Generally, the former includes any assets or property that were acquired during the marriage. The latter will usually include anything that was either purchased or acquired before the start of the marriage, or anything that has been explicitly excluded through a prenuptial agreement. There are exceptions, of course.
An experienced divorce attorney can help you determine which assets may be eligible for protection during your divorce. Further, if you suspect that your spouse may be hiding assets, or if you are struggling to gain documentation on certain assets that you know exist, your attorney can work to bring your marital property into discovery. This is especially important in high asset divorces, where a handful of assets can make all the difference in the amount of your settlement.
Valuing Your Marital Estate
Once assets have been divided, it is time to determine the total value of your marital estate. This is a critical step. Inaccuracies, due either to missing assets or inflated/deflated valuation can lead to improper distribution. To decrease your risk of improper valuation, work with an experienced divorce lawyer, right from the very start. Also, keep an eye out for suspicious activity, particularly if your spouse has a closely held business.
How Property and Assets Are Distributed
With the value in mind, divorcing couples can either negotiate a settlement outside of court, or they can pursue litigation when negotiations are not working (or are not considered a viable option). Here, the judge will determine how the marital estate should be divided. They will use a number of factors to make this decision, some of which include:
- Value of the marital estate;
- Length of the marriage;
- Age and health of each party;
- Potential tax consequences;
- Custodial provisions of children;
- Income and education of each party;
- Any contributions made by a party to further the education or career of the other;
- Any obligations arising from previous marriages;
- Each party’s reasonable ability to earn income and acquire assets in the future;
- Contributions each party made to the marital estate; and
- Any dissipation either spouse may have caused to the marital estate.
Getting Your Fair Share in an Illinois Divorce
An experienced Orland Park divorce lawyer can protect your interests in divorce. As experienced advocates, we ensure proper valuation of your estate, uncover hidden assets, and skillfully represent you during negotiations. If litigation is required, we aggressively defend your rights and ensure all factors are considered in your case. In every situation, our attorneys pursue the most favorable settlement possible. Get the representation you deserve. Contact us for a free consultation today.