While divorce always means the same thing – that a marriage is legally dissolving – the laws that govern this process varies from one state to the next. Specifically, this applies to how marital assets and property are divided in divorce. Illinois is an equitable distribution state, which means that assets are split “fairly” instead of “equally.” Understand how Illinois courts determine what is fair, and how it may impact your divorce settlement.
Negotiation or Litigation?
Some couples choose to negotiate their settlement outside of court, which gives them more power in deciding how their assets are split. If you choose this option, it is critical that you hire an experienced attorney. This will ensure that your rights are not violated during the negotiation process, and that you have experienced guidance when it comes to determining if your settlement amount would be considered fair under Illinois laws.
Be aware that some couples are advised to pursue litigation over negotiations, such as those whose marriages involved physical, emotional, or financial abuse. In these instances, the litigation process is better able to protect a victim and their rights. It also reduces the risk of manipulation or coercion in the determination of their settlement agreement.
Factors Used to Determine Asset Distribution
If a couple is unable to reach an agreement during the negotiation period, or if negotiation is not the appropriate path for their divorce, couples take their case to court for litigation. Here, the judge uses a variety of factors to determine how assets should be divided between the parties. These factors may include:
- Duration of the marriage;
- Health, age, and social station of each party;
- Occupation, education, employability, and/or vocational skills of each party;
- Value of the marital estate, including businesses;
- Each party’s needs and wishes;
- Debts, liabilities, and child support/alimony obligations of each party (including those from previous marriages);
- Future earning potential of each party;
- Tax consequences and considerations;
- Prenuptial agreements;
- Contributions each party may have made to the education, employment advancement, and/or vocational skills of the other party; and
- Any other factor the courts may deem relevant.
Divorcing spouses pursuing litigation should ensure they have quality legal representation throughout the process. This will help to ensure that all relevant factors are brought up and used in the determination of your divorce settlement. Furthermore, an attorney can help you effectively navigate the process, which decreases the risk of a costly mistake that could come back to haunt you later.
At Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C., we understand the complex process of asset valuation and division. We have the skills and experience needed to help you effectively navigate the divorce process and will work to ensure that all of your assets are accurately valued. Our seasoned DuPage County divorce lawyers protect your interests, your rights, and always pursue the most favorable outcome possible. To learn more, call us at 630-665-7676 and schedule your confidential consultation today.