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The basics of property division in Illinois

Splitting up property during a divorce can be the root cause of many heated disputes. How do couples already at odds decide who stays in the family home, or how to distribute bank accounts? Here is a quick look at how property division works in Illinois to find out.

Determine what is marital property

Couples only have to divide marital property during their divorce. And state law classifies anything that each spouse owned before the marriage as separate property. Separate property also includes any gifts or inheritances in one individual's name.

On the other hand, marital property includes anything that the spouses purchased together or shared during the marriage. This kind of property is often high in value and generally consists of assets such as:

  • Real estate
  • Vehicles
  • Furniture
  • Shared finances

Both spouses have equal ownership of marital assets. However, property division strategies are not necessarily equal.

Spouses can reach a settlement together

In an amicable divorce, couples could determine how they divide the property on their own. Then they have the power to decide if they divide assets equally or equitably.

Frequently, divorcing spouses reach agreements to sell significant assets and share the earnings equally. Then they negotiate how to divide the rest. It is also increasingly common for both spouses to co-own the family home if they have young children. 

Dividing property through equitable division

If couples disagree on division, then Illinois family courts can handle the settlement. Illinois is an equitable distribution state. Therefore, the court divides assets fairly instead of equally. The courts evaluate specific variables for equitable distribution, including:

  • The value of the assets
  • Each spouse's financial contributions during the marriage
  • The length of the marriage
  • The current and future economic standing of each spouse

These factors help the court calculate a fair property division settlement between the spouses. Spouses can also use these factors to determine an equitable agreement.

The primary purpose of property division is to adjust a couple's financial relationship from shared to separate. And with equitable distribution, both spouses can move forward into the future with more financial stability.

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