When you get married, you are not contemplating divorce. Unfortunately, a large percentage of marriages end in divorce. During divorce, one of the biggest concerns is often the division of property between the two former spouses. In order to determine which party gets to keep what property, the property must first be divided into marital and non-marital property.

Illinois statute defines what is marital and non-marital property. Marital property is any property that is acquired during the marriage by either spouse. This includes debts and other obligations. Non-marital property is property that one spouse had before the marriage, gifts, inheritance, and any income that is derived from non-marital property. Additionally, property can be specifically excluded from a marital estate if the parties have executed a valid agreement.

In Illinois, only marital property can be divided by the courts. Any non-marital property remains with the spouse who owned the property before the marriage. The Illinois statute also outlines 12 factors that Illinois courts use to divide property:

  • The amount each party contributed in acquiring the marital property
  • Each party’s dissipation of the marital assets
  • The value of the property that is assigned to each party
  • How long the marriage lasted
  • The economic position and circumstances of each party after the property would be divided
  • Obligations or rights of one party because of a prior marriage
  • Prenuptial or postnuptial agreements
  • The needs of each party based on age, health, sources of income, and employability
  • The custody of any children from the marriage
  • Whether the division of the property is instead or in addition to maintenance
  • Each spouse’s ability to earn future income and assets
  • Tax consequences of the division of property

After deciding what is martial property, the court must assign a value to the property before it can divide it. If the parties need help in determining the value of property, professionals, such as appraisers, will be hired to help. If there are assets for which value is difficult to determine, financial professionals can also help. For example, it might be hard to determine the value of a retirement account, and as such, a certified public accountant would be hired to help determine the value.

The court considers the above factors in determining how to divide the assets. The court must come to an equitable decision, but this does not mean that there needs to be an equal division of assets. Of course, there is always the option that the couple can decide amongst themselves how to divide the property. The parties can amicably determine which party keeps which assets and put those agreements into writing.

If you are considering filing for divorce, Hamilton & Antonsen, Ltd. is here to help you. The experienced Joliet divorce attorneys will guide you through this difficult time. We work hard to ensure that you get what is your fair share of the assets and that your divorce is handled with the utmost care. Contact us today.