After spending decades building a comfortable lifestyle, the last thing you want is to lose your assets in a contentious divorce. If spouses who are splitting cannot reach an agreement about the division of property, the Illinois court will order equitable division of the marital assets and debts.

If you are divorcing in Illinois, review the basics of property division as a starting point for negotiation with your spouse.

Definition of marital property

Separate property includes inheritances or gifts received during the marriage by only one spouse and assets either spouse owned before the marriage. You can also establish property division in a prenuptial agreement if you want to retain separate ownership of specific assets that would otherwise constitute marital property.

Wages, retirement accounts and any other valuables either spouse earns during the marriage fall under the category of marital property. An increase in value of a separate property is also marital property, such as equity in a home bought before tying the knot.

Considerations in marital property division

State law in Illinois mandates equitable, but not necessarily equal, division of marital property and debts. When the court dictates property division in a contentious divorce, the judge considers these factors:

  • The existence of a prenuptial agreement
  • Tax consequences for each party
  • Each party’s current and projected income, employment status and age
  • Existing children and child custody arrangements
  • The contributions of both spouses to the marriage, including both paid employment and unpaid duties like cooking and child care
  • How long the marriage lasted
  • Whether either spouse supported another relationship with marital funds

Hiding or wasting assets

Do you suspect that your spouse has transferred funds to a separate account or is quickly spending money to avoid sharing it equitably? You must file a formal claim of dissipation at least 30 days after the end of discovery or 60 days before the scheduled court date, whichever is later.

While couples who have limited assets often come to an agreement without the court, high net worth divorces may result in litigation. Property division can be complex in cases involving investments or businesses.