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Understanding Equitable Distribution in an Illinois Divorce

Posted on in Divorce

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One of the most contentious parts of the divorce process is often the division of marital property. Divorcing couples have the option of dividing property on their own, but couples who cannot reach an agreement will require court intervention. Illinois courts divide marital assets and debts according to “equitable distribution.” Unlike other states that divide the marital estate exactly in half, Illinois instead considers a variety of factors to determine an asset division arrangement that is fair and reasonable for both spouses. If a couple has a high net worth or owns complex assets, the property division process can become especially complicated.

Differentiating Between Separate and Marital Property is Not Always Straightforward

Only marital property is divided during an Illinois divorce. Marital property generally includes property obtained by either spouse during the marriage. Separate property typically includes any assets or debts that the spouses acquired before the marriage took place as well as certain gifts and inheritances acquired throughout the union. Differentiating between separate and marital property is not always as easy as it may seem. Assets that are commingled can lose their identity and be transmuted from separate property to marital property. For example, if a spouse receives an inheritance from a relative during the marriage, those funds are typically considered separate property. However, if the spouse uses some of those funds to pay for shared expenses during the marriage, the funds may be transmuted into marital property.  

Factors Considered by Illinois Courts During Division of Assets

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act lists the factors that Illinois courts evaluate during asset division. These factors include, but are not limited to:

  • Any valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement

  • Allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody provisions)

  • Spousal maintenance (alimony) provisions

  • The duration of the marriage

  • The contributions made by each spouse to value of the marital estate

  • Non-financial contributions made to the marital estate, such as contributions made as a stay-at-home-parent or homemaker

  • The spouses’ health, age, employability, and overall financial circumstances

  • Whether or not either spouse has previous spousal maintenance or child support obligations

  • Anticipated tax implications of property division

  • Any claims of financial fraud or dissipation made by either spouse

It is important to note that only a valid prenuptial agreement will be considered during a divorce. There are a number of issues that can invalidate a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. If you have questions about the validity of a marital agreement or other property division questions, contact a qualified divorce lawyer for help.

Contact a Cook County Property Division Lawyer

If you are considering divorce, or if you have already decided to end your marriage in Illinois, contact a qualified Western Springs divorce attorney at Botti Marinaccio, LTD. We can help you find a solution to property division disputes through negotiation, mediation, collaborative law, or if necessary, court litigation. Schedule a confidential consultation by calling our office today at 630-575-8585.



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2015 Spring Road, Oak Brook, IL 60523

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