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How Are Assets Divided in an Illinois Divorce?

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Approximately 2.2 out of every 1,000 Illinois residents are divorced. When Illinoisans divorce, their marital property is unlikely to be divided equally. With equitable distribution laws, Illinois divorce courts may divide marital assets between spouses 30/70 or 40/60, for instance, but infrequently 50/50.

Illinois is not a community property state. States that uphold community property distribution laws split marital assets 50/50 between spouses, no matter what the circumstances. But in Illinois, court officials decide what is equitable distribution and individual circumstances can sway their decision.

Why Unequal Asset Distribution

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While seemingly unfair to the spouse who is awarded less, Illinois courts are intent on dividing marital property fairly and justly. Usually, this results in an unequal distribution of assets. The courts’ judgement is affected in large part by the unique situations surrounding the dissolution of the union.

In Illinois, it matters little how malicious one spouse is toward the other. Being a state that recognizes “no-fault” divorce, Illinois courts do not fault one spouse for causing the divorce, such in instances of affairs. This means the judge will not award more marital assets to the victimized spouse.

However, financial misconduct is recognized by Illinois courts and awarded justly. When a spouse wastes a family’s financial reserves on gifts to his mistress, the courts will order the cheating spouse to reimburse the funds to the divorcing spouse, as the money was not used for family benefit.

What is considered marital property?

A married couple may buy a pricey armoire, for instance. During a divorce, this armoire will be awarded to one spouse. It is up to the courts to decide who receives this valuable piece of furniture, because it is considered marital property—an item that was acquired during the marriage.

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In Illinois, possessions acquired outside of the marriage, such as before or after, are considered non-marital property. A sapphire necklace inherited by one spouse before the legal union was formed is an example of non-marital property. Illinois divorce courts cannot divide non-marital assets.

Marital property can be combined, making equitable distribution challenging. For instance, one spouse’s wages from the period prior to the marriage may be placed in a joint account with the other spouse. Courts deem the funds as marital property, unless the original funding source can be traced and proven.

Additional instances of commingling include when funds earned prior to the marriage are used to pay for family goods. Illinois courts call this transmutation—a gift toward the union. The judge will not return the funds during a divorce, since the money has been converted to marital property.

Factors influencing Division of Property

In order to arrive at the most just and fair split of marital assets, Illinois courts consider several factors. Judges will look at the length of the marriage, the income earned by either or both spouses during the union and each spouse’s age, education level and health.

Each spouse’s pre-marital property also receives attention. The courts examine the spouses’ contributions to the union and marital estate as well as any dissipations that affect the marital estate. Dissipation is when money is spent for non-marital purposes (lavish spending with intents that the other spouse will pay for it).

1. Length of Marriage

The shorter the length of the marriage, the more likely it is that an Illinois divorce court will award a 50/50 split of marital assets. In longer marriages where there is an income discrepancy, judges typically favor granting the spouse with less earnings a larger portion of the marital property.

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Short-term marriages are scrutinized in courts, and for good reason. Illinois divorce and asset distribution laws work to prevent gold-diggers from unscrupulously marrying wealthy individuals in efforts to derive a hefty payout upon a divorce just a day or two after the union.

2. Earning Power

Illinois judges view equal-earning partners as deserving of a 50/50 division. But in a long-term marriage, a homemaker is likely to receive a larger split. The working spouse can continue to earn income after the dissolution of the marriage, while the homemaker has a lesser earning capacity.

Income discrepancies influence a court’s decision to award more or less to the working and non-working spouse. As mentioned above, the ability to earn future income is considered by judges. Just how much a spouse can reasonably earn after the divorce affects the outcome of the property split.

3. Children

Illinois courts consider the well-being of children when dividing marital assets during a divorce. Judges try to keep the kids at the family home or in the same school district. This effort will result in one spouse being awarded the family home as part of the division of marital property.

Work with a Divorce Lawyer for Proper Asset Division

Navigating marital division laws during a divorce is hardly straightforward. Numerous factors are to be presented to the courts to receive the fairest split. An experienced divorce lawyer from Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. is prepared to discuss your concerns and present your case in the most favorable light.

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The divorce lawyers at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. are knowledgeable in all aspects of the continually changing divorce laws in Illinois. In addition to thorough knowledge of current statutes as well as legal expertise, our clients receive over 50 years of combined experience in family law.

We are ready to represent you with issues involving child support, pre-nuptial agreements, spousal support, visitation, post-decree matters and property division.

Our lawyers will help you understand what falls under the category of marital property, which can include stocks, houses, vehicles and pets.

With a legal team of experienced family law attorneys in Oak Lawn, Illinois, the reputable firm of Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. is prepared to help individuals who are in the midst of a divorce or anticipating one. Our divorce attorneys are ready to guide you every step of the way, answer all questions, present you with your best legal options and support you during the trying process of a divorce.

Contact Us

To receive a free consultation with our divorce attorneys, give us a call at (708) 425-9530.

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