When a couple gets a divorce in Illinois, the property that both parties acquired during marriage is not divided equally in half. If a couple cannot reach a Marital Settlement Agreement on their own that lays out the division of their marital assets, then a judge will look at a variety of factors to determine how the property should best be divided. When dividing property in Illinois, the Circuit Court will try to make a division that it considers to be “fair.”
Prior to ordering the division of property, a judge must determine which assets and debts are marital property in the first place. For instance, a separate property asset that appreciated in value during marriage may be found to have a marital property component. Once a judge classifies the parties’ assets and debts, the court will then assign a monetary value to each asset and debt that is considered marital property. Only after these first two steps are taken will the court order the distribution of assets. The court will not consider either party’s misconduct during marriage in deciding on a fair division.
Illinois Statutes list twelve factors that are to be taken into account by a court in distributing marital property. These factors include but are not limited to the length of the spouses’ marriage, the age and health of each spouse, the spouses’ occupations and earning capacities, the contribution of each spouse to the increase or decrease in property during marriage as well as each spouse’s contribution to the family unit and the economic circumstances of each party.
Courts will also look at whether the parties have children and whether the division of marital property will be in addition to or instead of spousal support. Given the complexity of the property division process in court, individuals going through a divorce may want to speak with a family law attorney about whether it would behoove them to try to reach a settlement outside of court.
Source: Divorce Support, “Illinois Property Division Factors“, September 12, 2014