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Property division in Illinois—looking at the general approach

Last time, we spoke briefly about several of the most important issues for couples as they contemplate the decision to file for divorce. As we noted, some of these factors are more subjective, such as happiness and love. Other factors involve more objective considerations, as is the case with division of property and child custody, which must also be considered in divorce.

Property division and child custody are more objective considerations in divorce not because they don’t involve the emotions of the parties, but because they are governed by specific laws. Beginning with the issue of property division, the default rule or approach in Illinois is equitable distribution. Generally, this is an approach to property division which involves division of marital assets in a way deemed fair to each party. 

Illinois’ property division statute specifically speaks of assigning “just proportions.” A variety of factors are taken into consideration in determining what exactly constitutes a just division of marital assets. These factors include:

  • Each party’s respective contribution to the acquisition, preservation, increase or decrease in value of marital or non-marital property
  • Dissipation of marital property
  • The value of the property each spouse is assigned
  • The length of the marriage;
  • The financial circumstances of each party
  • Each party’s obligations and rights from previous marriages
  • The age, health, station, occupation, vocational skills and employability of each party

One important point to mention is that courts also take into account any prenuptial or postnuptial agreement of the parties when determining what constitutes a just division of assets. In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this issue. 

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