When a couple is married, they often share many things, including property and assets. However, if their union sours and they decide to divorce, they will have to decide how to divide all of these items. Marital property consists of anything that is acquired during the marriage. Nonmarital property is anything that one spouse obtained prior to the marriage. According to Illinois law, any debt that spouses accumulated together falls under marital debt, so it is, therefore, subject to division. Determining who is required to pay off certain debts can be challenging to say the least.
Equitable Distribution of Marital Assets and Debts
Since Illinois is an equitable distribution state, debt is divided “fairly” rather than equally. This method can apply to different types of debt, from cars to home improvements to educational loans. In addition, if a couple owns and runs a company together, that family business must be valued to determine how to divide its assets. If one spouse owned a business before the marriage, but the other spouse helped manage its day-to-day operations, then he or she may be entitled to a portion of its value or worth....
Often found in the business world, commingled assets refer to mixing personal funds with business funds or using business assets for personal reasons. Commingling of funds or assets can also occur between two spouses, making it difficult to determine which funds and/or assets belong to whom in a divorce. For example, it can be hard to distinguish when one spouse’s separate property is mixed with the other spouse’s marital property. However, this is crucial to ensure that each party receives his or her fair share of the marital estate.
Under Illinois law, marital property is divided using the equitable distribution method, which means items or assets are not necessarily split in half, but rather in a fair way. Marital property is generally considered property that was acquired during the course of the marriage. Non-marital or separate property is that which one spouse owned prior to getting married or acquired during the marriage through gift or inheritance. Separate property is not subject to division in the divorce settlement....
In any divorce, a couple will have to go through a legal process before the marriage is legally terminated. These proceedings involve many different decisions, especially when children are involved or there is a significant amount of assets. In the state of Illinois, marital property is divided using the equitable distribution method, which means items are split fairly but not necessarily 50/50. Full disclosure of assets is necessary in order to properly divide the marital assets. If one spouse is hiding or wasting a portion of the marital assets, this can negatively affect the property awarded in the divorce settlement.
Revealing Deceptive Tactics
By the time that a couple files a petition to dissolve their marriage, their relationship is likely to be over. In some cases, one party may try to gain an advantage by making it appear that there are fewer assets to be divided. These actions can also include transferring marital property to a third party without the other spouse’s consent. In Illinois, for this kind of activity to be considered dissipation, it has to occur when the marriage is already broken down beyond repair....
If you are facing the possibility of a divorce, you and your spouse will need to address a number of important considerations along the way. For example, one or both of you will likely need to find someplace to live. If the two of you have children together, a parenting plan will need to be developed that includes arrangements for the allocation of parental responsibilities and each parent’s parenting time. Simply adjusting to everyday life as a single person is likely to present challenges in and of itself. However, many of the most difficult concerns in any divorce tend to focus on a couple’s finances, including how their marital property will be split and whether either spouse should expect spousal support payments.
Property Division and Maintenance Considerations
The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5) provides that decisions about money and property in an Illinois divorce are to be made based on the circumstances of each unique case. If you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse cannot come to a settlement agreement, it will be up to the court to identify and divide the marital estate, as well as to decide if there is a need for spousal support – known in the law as “maintenance.” In making these decisions, a family court judge is required by law to consider a variety of factors related to each. Such factors include:
- Each spouse’s income, earning capacity, and available resources
- The role each spouse played during the marriage, how that role affected the value of the marital property, and its effect on the earning ability of the other spouse
- How long the marriage lasted and the standard of living established in the marriage
- How maintenance and allocated property will affect each spouse’s tax obligations
- How parenting responsibilities are being divided
- Any valid agreements between the spouses, including prenuptial and postnuptial agreements
Putting the Pieces Together
Illinois law also directs a presiding judge to take into account the overall financial situation present during the marriage, as well as in the pending divorce. It is important to recognize that the asset division process and spousal support determinations are not independent considerations. In fact, the law specifies that each might affect the other. For example, if you have asked for spousal support in your divorce, and the court is deciding on how to divide your marital estate, the judge is statutorily obligated to consider whether property should be given to you “in lieu of or in addition to maintenance.”...
If you are getting a divorce in Illinois, you may be expecting to receive an equal 50 percent of the property you and your spouse own. However, Illinois is an “equitable distribution” state when it comes to the division of marital property. This means that property is divided fairly, but not necessarily equally. Although many divorce cases are finalized with a 50/50 split, this is not always the end result. Judges may consider a variety of factors when determining how to fairly divide assets, including:
The Financial Position and Earning Power of Each Spouse
If one spouse is going to be in a bad financial position after the divorce, and the other spouse is very well off, a judge will take this into consideration. This is particularly true if the spouse that does not have a lot of finances stayed home to look after the household and take care of the children.
When one spouse did stay home, a judge will also consider their ability to find a well-paying job once the marriage ends. If a parent had stayed home for a very long time caring for children, they may find it difficult to get back into the workforce. Therefore, they may be awarded more in property or assets....
A spouse’s reaction to the news of divorce can vary widely. The significance and repercussions of divorce often make it difficult for spouses to cooperate with each other, and some may even feel compelled to engage in actions designed to punish or hurt the other spouse. One form of revenge, or perhaps just simple disregard for the laws of marriage and divorce, involves one spouse wasting or destroying marital assets during the time surrounding the divorce, thereby depriving the other spouse of the ability to receive these assets in a property settlement.
The financial fallout of divorce is one of the most difficult consequences that couples must face, and both spouses may struggle to support themselves if the terms of the divorce are not properly structured. The division of marital property is a huge part of finding financial security following divorce, and if one spouse deliberately misuses marital assets, this can put the other spouse in financial jeopardy.
Property Division During Divorce
Illinois follows the equitable division of property model, meaning marital assets will be divided according to what is most fair. Most settlements are roughly equal, unless circumstances require a different outcome....