Divorces tend to bring up difficult questions that need answers. What’s next for me when things are done? How are we going to handle custody? Is my ex going to want alimony?
There are plenty of things on your mind, but one of the most pressing matters soon-to-be-divorced people deal with revolves around the division of property.
Dividing up property can be complicated regardless of where you’re getting divorced, but the division of marital assets in Illinois is unique for various reasons.
Let this be your guide to dividing up property. We’re going to dive into what the law dictates, determining factors for dividing marital assets, and tips that can help make the process go a little smoother on your end.
Equitable Division Vs. Community Property
When dealing with divorce practices around the division of property, most states fall into two distinct categories: community property and equitable distribution.
If you live in a community property state, all property can be classified as either community property that’s jointly owned by both spouses or separate property that’s owned by one spouse. Community property can count as anything that’s acquired by one or both spouses during the marriage. Separate property can be large purchases or items acquired before the marriage and can also include inheritances and gifts.
It’s important to note that there can be exceptions to rules depending on the state you live in. However, in general, people in those states split community property equally between both spouses and keep the separate property for themselves. This is what most people think of when they envision a “50/50” divorce.
Illinois is an equitable division state, and rules in those states are a bit different. In equitable division states, the overall outcome is designed to be “fair” but not necessarily equal.
Community or marital property and separate property still matter in these states. However, depending on what the judge sees as “fair,” you may be surprised at who ends up with what.
The Most Important Factors in the Division of Marital Assets in Illinois
If you’re looking for a straightforward answer on what to expect during the division of assets during your divorce, you may be a little disappointed. Since so many factors go into determining the division of assets, it’s impossible to tell an individual exactly what will happen.
We may not be able to predict the future, but luckily, we can tell you the factors that matter the most during asset division in Illinois. Of course, having pre and post-nuptial agreements can make things a little clearer, but some factors weigh heavily upon how assets are divided.
Perhaps you were the primary earner, and your spouse was strictly a stay-at-home parent. You may have both worked full time and brought in an equal amount of pay. It’s even possible that you both worked, but one of you brought in a lot more money.
The financial contributions you made during your marriage are going to factor heavily into the division of property. Spouses that outearned their soon-to-be exes could find themselves losing more money and assets.
It’s also important to note that income and earnings aren’t the only things that fall under this category. Debt can play a significant role in the overall outcome. Shared debt like mortgages will matter, but so can individual forms of debt like credit cards and student loans.
Destroyed and Sold Property
We’ve seen it before. Whether it’s a rental property, vehicle, piece of art, or set of golf clubs, there’s something expensive one spouse doesn’t want the other to claim. In order to keep it out of their hands, they end up selling it to a friend to reclaim later or could even destroy it out of spite.
It may seem like a solid plan, but it won’t help during the division of assets. If your ex has proof (remember that photographs, videos, and even texts can count) that certain items existed and you purposely damaged or sold them, they’ll still be factored into the judge’s final decision.
Reputable attornies would never recommend trying to hide or sell important or valuable assets. It rarely works out for people in the end, and judges usually don’t look too kindly on people who try to pull a fast one.
Has your spouse been out of work for years and would need a considerable amount of education or training to re-enter the workforce? Has your spouse reached retirement age? Does your soon-to-be ex have any health problems that could impact their ability to work or care for children?
All of these factors are important when it’s time to divide up assets. People with disabled spouses could see themselves losing more assets to compensate for their care. Since age can be a problem for people entering the workforce, older spouses may receive a bit more money and assets.
People who have been married for a few years shouldn’t expect to have the same outcome as couples who have been together for decades. But, in some cases, time could literally be on your side!
Spouses that have been together longer tend to have more “intertwined” finances and assets. They’ve simply had time to accumulate more assets, so dividing things up can be more complicated.
Newer couples may have a slightly easier time dividing up assets. This is because fewer big purchases may have been made, and finances haven’t had much time to co-mingle.
You say that you divide up child care equally, but your spouse and your children could have a different opinion.
Things like attending doctor’s appointments, coordinating transportation for extracurricular activities, and getting home the earliest from work may seem inconsequential. However, these matters can mean a lot when the time comes to divide up assets.
Child care comes into play for every couple with children, and that’s true even if you plan on splitting custody equally.
Tips on Dividing Up Your Assets
As you can see, the division of assets is far from a cut and dry matter in the state of Illinois. So when there are a lot of factors that come into play, it’s more important than ever to approach things with an organized plan of attack.
Don’t go into court hoping that things will work out. However, if you want to ensure that you protect what matters to you the most, here are some must-follow tips to keep in mind.
Get a Lawyer
You and your spouse are on good terms and want things to end as quickly and as fairly as possible. You already have a good idea of who wants what, and you don’t have any major objections to what they’ve suggested.
Regardless of how things are going now, you absolutely need to find an attorney of your own. Notice that the keyword here is “own.” This is because sharing lawyers can get messy and can complicate an already difficult matter.
Everyone splitting from their spouse should search for “a divorce lawyer near me,” regardless of how simple and reasonable things seem now. You need someone on your side that knows the law and can represent your best interests. Even if you think sharing one can save you money, it’s best to have your own in the long run.
Start Documenting Everything
You’re going to want to approach things with a clear mind and set goals for the outcome. In order to ensure that you’re getting what you want, take time before you head to court to outline the things that matter to you the most.
Make a list of things you consider to be separate property, then make a list of what you’d like from your marital property. Your lawyer can help advise you on if you have realistic expectations or if you need to make some changes.
Consider taking pictures of some of your more expensive items to document the condition they’re in. We mentioned before that some spouses could try to damage or sell things, and you’re going to want to do what you can to protect your assets.
Pick Your Battles
Divorce can be an expensive and emotional matter to deal with. It can be easy to get caught up in how you’re feeling and make questionable choices because of it.
Sometimes it’s better to let certain things go if it’ll result in a quicker and less dramatic resolution. There are some things that are worth fighting for, but many things you’re fighting over could be replaced over time or may not matter much in the grand scheme of things.
Don’t extend a bitter court battle by a few weeks over a coffee table. Instead, decide what matters to you the most before you have your day in court, and work with your lawyer on the best strategy to get it.
Find the Best Divorce Lawyer for Your Case
The division of marital assets in Illinois is far from a simple matter, but it is something that you can manage with the right help.
With over 25 years of experience in divorce and family law, we’re confident that we can handle your case. Whether you need help with the division of assets or assistance with navigating the family court system, we’re ready to be your allies. Are you ready to start fighting for your future and family? Contact us today so we can talk about the best way to handle your divorce, the division of assets, and any of your family law needs.