During a divorce there are a slew of steps that are taken to ensure both members of the dissolved marriage end up okay in the end. Property division is one of them. In Illinois, couples have the option of negotiating a “full package” divorce, one that determines division of property, alongside alimony and child custody. Whatever terms are agreed upon during these initial discussions are legally binding, unless a state court determines that the agreement is unfair. Any one of these important decisions that need to be made during the divorce process, that aren't made by the couple and their individual lawyers, are left up to the court.
If property division is left up to the court, it will be determined by what the court considers fair. Illinois is an equitable distribution state. This means that the distribution of property isn't necessarily equal, but is determined by a series of factors that make it what the court considers fair. This includes the parties' income, both parties' contribution to the marriage, each person's standard of living, and the potential for future income.
According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, property division is further broken down by what's called “marital and non-marital property.” Non-marital property includes (but is not limited to):
- property acquired by gift, legacy or descent;
- property acquired by a spouse after a judgment of legal separation;
- property acquired before the marriage.
Marital property is considered anything that is acquired during the marriage—including the marital home (regardless of whose name is on the lease), any cars, and secondary property.
Division of property is only one of the many complicated processes a divorcing couple must go through. Don't do it alone. Contact an experienced Illinois divorce attorney today.