If you are approaching divorce in Illinois, you may wonder how the law treats the division of marital property. Here’s what you need to know.
Divorce is a difficult and emotional process that can be made even more complicated by the division of property between spouses. Marital property includes more than your family home. The legal definition of an asset in a divorce is anything that has a real value. Assets can include tangible items that can be bought and sold such as cars, properties, furniture, jewelry and even cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.
Illinois is an equitable distribution state, which means that marital property is divided fairly, but not necessarily equally, between the spouses. This is in contrast to community property states, where marital property is divided equally between the spouses.
The Strain of Property Division on Divorcing Couples
The division of property that you and your spouse have shared for years can seem especially tricky, often introducing fresh grievances or re-igniting old ones in the process. Here are some of the reasons why property division can be difficult in divorce:
- Emotional attachments to property: Couples may have emotional attachments to certain properties, such as a family home or heirloom, which can make it difficult to negotiate a fair division.
- Disagreements about what is fair: Spouses may have different ideas about what is a fair division of property. For example, one spouse may argue that they should receive a larger share of the marital property because they earned more money, while the other spouse may argue that they should receive a larger share because they contributed more to the household.
- Complexity of assets: Couples may have complex assets, such as businesses, investments, or retirement accounts, that are difficult to value and divide.
- Difficulty agreeing on values: Even when the assets are not complex, it can be difficult to agree on the value of the assets, especially if they have appreciated or depreciated in value since they were acquired.
- Legal complexities: Property division in divorce can be a legally complex process, and couples may struggle to understand the relevant laws and regulations.
- Fear of financial instability: Divorce can have a significant impact on a person’s financial stability, and couples may be afraid of the financial consequences of a property division that they perceive as unfair.
Equitable Distribution in Illinois
As mentioned, Illinois is an Equitable distribution state, meaning that a court will divide the marital property in a way that is fair and just, taking into account various factors such as:
- The contributions each spouse made to the acquisition, preservation, or increase in value of the marital property;
- The length of the marriage;
- Primary caregiver status for the child/children;
- The economic circumstances of each spouse at the time of the property division;
- Any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements between the spouses;
- The age, health, and occupation of each spouse;
- The needs of each spouse; and
- Any other factors the court deems relevant.
Marital property in Illinois includes all property acquired by either spouse during the marriage, regardless of how it is titled, except for property acquired by gift, inheritance, or a property acquired in exchange for property acquired before the marriage.
Non-marital property, on the other hand, includes property acquired by a spouse before the marriage, property acquired by gift or inheritance, and property acquired in exchange for non-marital property.
You will want to be sure to understand how the decisions you make about the division of your property will affect the taxes owed by both you and your spouse.
For instance, if you sell your home or other assets during your divorce, you may be required to pay capital gains taxes. Understanding and addressing tax-related issues will help you avoid financial problems that may arise after you complete your divorce.
Community Property Laws in Illinois
Illinois is not a community property state. Community property states, such as California and Texas, divide marital property equally between the spouses regardless of the contributions each spouse made to acquiring or maintaining the property.
In a community property state, property acquired by either spouse during the marriage is considered community property, and each spouse has an equal interest in it. This includes income earned during the marriage and any property acquired with that income.
Illinois and other equitable distribution states, on the other hand, divide marital property in a way that is fair and just based on the factors discussed above.
It is not uncommon for parties to hide their assets from their ex’s and the courts to help swing the distribution of property in their direction.
When it comes to property division, it’s important to make a list of all assets and debts that you and your spouse share. This includes assets that are solely in your name or your spouse’s name. This involves everything from retirement accounts and investments to real estate and personal property. Having a detailed inventory of your assets will help your lawyer build a stronger case and ensure that you receive a fair settlement.
It’s also crucial to be honest with your lawyer about any challenges you may face during the divorce process. This includes concerns about child custody or your spouse hiding assets or income.
Getting the Legal Help You Need
If you are facing divorce in Illinois, you might decide you want an attorney to help you with your case. It is important to get an experienced lawyer when discussing property division after divorce for several reasons:
- Knowledge of the law: A divorce attorney will have a deep understanding of the laws and regulations that govern property division in your state, including the factors that a court will consider when dividing marital property. This knowledge will be invaluable in helping you negotiate a fair and equitable division of property.
- Objectivity: Divorce can be an emotionally charged process, and it can be difficult to negotiate property division when you are feeling hurt, angry, or resentful. A divorce attorney can provide an objective perspective and help you make decisions that are in your best interests.
- Protection of your rights: A divorce attorney will work to protect your rights and ensure that you receive a fair division of property. They will help you identify assets that may be subject to division and make sure that those assets are valued correctly. They will also help you understand your options for negotiating a division of property, including mediation and litigation if necessary.
- Avoiding mistakes: Property division can be a complex process, and it is easy to make mistakes that could have long-lasting financial consequences. A divorce attorney will help you avoid these mistakes and ensure that you are making informed decisions about your property division.
- Negotiation skills: A divorce attorney will have strong negotiation skills that can be invaluable in reaching a fair and equitable division of property. They will work to find creative solutions to complex property division issues and help you achieve your goals.
An experienced divorce attorney can help you navigate the complex process of property division and ensure that you receive a fair and equitable division of property.
Divorcing couples may struggle with property division because of emotional attachments, disagreements about what is fair, complex assets, difficulty agreeing on values, legal complexities, and fear of financial instability. It is important for couples to work with experienced divorce attorneys who can guide them through the process and help them reach a fair and equitable property division agreement.
If you are going through a divorce in Illinois and have questions about property division, contact the award-winning attorneys at Masters Law Group. Our highly experienced divorce lawyers are ready to guide you through the process and ensure that your rights are protected.
Set up your consultation here today.