If you and your spouse have decided to go your separate ways, you probably see property division as one of the most concerning elements of divorce.
Illinois is an equitable distribution state, so it is not a matter of splitting assets down the middle. It is a matter of splitting marital property in a way that is fair to both parties.
Understanding the differences
There are community property states in which all marital assets belong to both spouses equally. In equitable distribution states, of which Illinois is one, marital assets are divided in such a way that both parties have input and may leave the marriage feeling that they have received fair treatment, at least in terms of property division. In working this out, some people are focused on the financial side of certain assets while others want to make sure that they receive items of sentimental value in the settlement.
Marital versus nonmarital assets
Marital assets are those that you and your spouse acquired during the marriage, regardless of whose name appears on an asset like a home or a car. However, if you inherited a fine spinet piano from your grandmother, it is yours alone, as is the diamond engagement ring your spouse gave you before you were married.
Along with dividing assets, divorcing couples must also divide any existing debt. You might agree to pay everything off by selling a piece of property. You might negotiate with the other party to pay off a certain loan in exchange for retaining ownership of an asset you want. You and your spouse might also agree to share debts equally in order to pay them off. There are several options, and your attorney can help you decide how to proceed.
A family law attorney will tell you that there will be tax implications to consider, no matter how you divvy up your property. If you have children, there are going to be further expenses to deal with until the children reach their majority. Divorce is certainly not easy, but with proper planning, legal assistance and the bonus of equitable distribution, the future may look brighter than you think.