When couples divorce in Illinois, they must agree on how to divide marital property and debts. When they cannot agree, the judge will divide these assets and debts during divorce proceedings.
Review the state guidelines about the division of marital property when deciding to separate.
Defining marital property
Anything earned or acquired by either person constitutes marital property from the start of the marriage until the separation date. Separate property dates prior to the marriage but may also become partially or fully marital property if the couple mixes assets. An inheritance or gift received by only one spouse also falls into the category of separate property.
Understanding factors in division
Illinois, like most states, adheres to equitable division. With this type of arrangement, a couple must divide marital property fairly. However, that does not necessarily equate to a 50/50 split.
When dividing property on behalf of a divorcing couple, the court will consider:
- The existence of a valid Illinois premarital agreement
- How property division will affect the couple’s tax liability
- Each person’s employment level and income
- The age and health status of each spouse
- Whether either person has existing child support or spousal support orders
- Arrangements for the couple’s minor children together if applicable
- How each spouse contributed to the marriage
- How long the marriage lasted
- Whether either spouse wasted marital assets through misconduct
Some couples decide to create a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. In this type of legal document, they can establish certain items as separate property. For example, they can agree that each person will keep his or her own retirement savings in a divorce.