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In an equitable distribution state, the keyword is “fair”

If you are facing divorce, you may worry about the property division phase of the proceedings, not knowing exactly what to expect.

Illinois is an equitable distribution state in which the division of assets is fair but not always a 50-50 split.

What it means

Some states are community property states, which means that spouses own an equal share of all their marital property, assets and debts and that these must be divided equally, or half and half, during a divorce. However, like most states, Illinois has adopted the principle of equitable division. The goal is to ensure that both parties receive their fair share.

Marital versus separate property

Marital property refers to those items that you and your spouse acquired during your marriage. This would include the marital home and furnishings, your vehicles and any real property. Marital property would also include your bank, retirement and investment accounts. Separate property, on the other hand, is anything that you or your spouse owned individually before you married as well as gifts or inheritances given to one of you specifically. During your divorce, the court may ask for proof of separate property items.

What the court considers

If you and your spouse disagree on the division of your marital property, the court will decide. The judge will take certain matters into consideration.

  • The financial condition and earning ability for each of you
  • Your financial needs and liabilities going forward
  • The amount each of you contributed to the marital assets
  • The value of the assets you hold
  • Your age and state of health
  • Child support and/or alimony obligations

Preparing for equitable distribution

Begin by making a list of your marital property, assets and debts. You will have to apply monetary values to everything, which may require the assistance of professionals. Keep in mind that this listing will be the basis for the court’s determination regarding the fair division of property in your divorce.

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