When it comes to dividing property in a divorce Illinois uses an equitable distribution approach. Does this mean divorce in Illinois is 50-50? The short answer to this question is no. Few states use the community property approach, which would result in an automatic 50-50 split, but in Illinois, a judge will look at several factors to decide what is a fair, yet not necessarily equal, division of property.
Marital or Community Property
When it comes to deciding who gets the house or vacation home, the property first has to be considered marital (assets and debts acquired by either spouse during the marriage) or separate (property acquired by gift, legacy, or descent, property acquired by one spouse before the marriage, etc.). A judge will make decisions on whether to order properties to be listed, or to be awarded to one spouse or the other. The judge will base their decision on factors like the length of the marriage, the value of the property, the economic circumstances of each spouse, living arrangements for any children, and other factors.
Though pets are considered marital property, they are loving members of many couples’ families. A judge may choose to ascertain who took care of the pet day to day, and who is the pet registered to, among other relevant circumstances, to help aid in deciding who the pet lives with after the divorce.
Gifts and Inheritances
Any assets or properties acquired by gift, legacy, or descent, including inheritances, are not considered marital property. This means that any gifts or inheritances are not subject to be divided unless they are integrated or commingled with other family assets. For example, using funds to purchase something of mutual benefit, or depositing funds into a joint checking account, among other things. Something to note though is that inheritance and gifts can still be considered when deciding the division of other marital assets.
Retirement Plans and Pensions
Unless you have signed a prenuptial agreement that specifically states otherwise, your spouse will be entitled to some of your pension or retirement assets after divorce. Things that a judge will look to aid in decision-making are individual contributions, length of the marriage, value of retirement assets, and each spouse’s financial needs and circumstances.
Having an experienced divorce attorney on your side can take away any uncertainty you may have in splitting up marital properties fairly in divorce!