One of the most significant issues that you will have to address in a divorce is how to divide assets and property. This matter is often very complex and can quickly become contentious.

The Illinois family court system uses equitable property distribution to divide marital assets between spouses. In this post, we will discuss equitable property, which assets are exempt from division and how these rules may affect your divorce.

Understanding equitable distribution

Every state uses one of two forms of asset division: community property, or equitable distribution.

  • Community property means that all marital assets—or, assets accumulated during the marriage—must be divided equally between spouses.
  • Equitable distribution means that the court must divide marital assets in a fair and equitable manner between spouses.

The only assets exempt from division in Illinois are assets acquired before the marriage or during the marriage as a gift or through inheritance.

How will this affect my divorce?

You probably feel overwhelmed by the prospect of divvying up your hard-won property, bank accounts, real estate and other assets. Fortunately, because Illinois is an equitable distribution state, you will not necessarily lose half of your assets. The court considers several factors when dividing property, including:

  • The duration of the marriage
  • The contribution of each spouse
  • The earning potential of each spouse
  • The value of each partner’s assets
  • The tax penalties of property distribution

Because every case is unique, there is no way to accurately predict the outcome of your divorce without consulting a divorce attorney. However, there are certain ways to have more control over the results. Mediation or collaborative divorce allow spouses to reach mutually a satisfactory settlement out of court. In situations where mediation or collaboration is not possible, spouses can work with a divorce lawyer who will advocate for them in court.