Who Gets the House?

When a couple gets divorced in Illinois, property division is usually the most hotly debated issue, especially if there are no children involved. More than any other asset, the marital home is the asset most often debated and argued over. While each case is different, family courts do tend to take certain specific factors into account in determining who has the most equitable claim to the house.

Are There Trends?

While it is common to assume that the wife will receive the marital home in any divorce, this is more a stereotype than truth in this day and age. In reality, the marital home is one large asset amongst many. Hence, its disposition will be similar to any other asset’s, at least if decided by the court. Moreover, a long list of factors is weighted depending on the nature of the case, including how long the marriage has lasted, both parties’ incomes, both parties’ desire to retain the home, and what other assets have been awarded to each spouse.

While the days where a wife would automatically receive custody are generally a thing of the past, it is more likely that a primary residential parent may retain the home, because children are presumed to do better (in terms of both school and overall mental health) when allowed to remain in the same school and locality during their studies.

Studies even show that moving repeatedly may cause long-term developmental harm, in certain situations. If the primary residential parent is granted the marital home, however, it may not save the family from eventually moving anyway.

Will the Finances Work Out?

Despite the very real reasons why someone might choose to fight to keep the marital home, it is important to remember that it is an asset, as is any other property involved in your divorce. If you choose to retain the marital home, you will be choosing to give up on other assets, in order to preserve equity between you and your spouse.

Illinois law mandates that marital property be divided under the principle of equitable distribution, meaning that each spouse must receive as close to an equal share of the marital property as is possible. If you are awarded the marital home and the equity therein, there may be a significant cash value in just those two assets.

The home is also not just valued by its equity—a good family court judge will take into account that maintenance, repair fees, and cleaning are also part of the home’s value or lack thereof. Houses do not hold their value very well and can depreciate at a fairly rapid rate. However, instruments like bank accounts or retirement savings do not generally depreciate at all. Because of this, the equity in your home might not be sufficient to allow you to sell it at anything but a loss.

Ask a Knowledgeable Attorney

No one wants to spend time embroiled in a lengthy and contentious debate over property. If you are confused or concerned about the division of your assets during divorce, consulting an attorney is a good idea. A skilled Will County divorce attorney can help you determine what the best option may be in our case. Contact us today to set up an initial appointment. Call 708-518-8200.