Illinois is an equitable distribution state in divorce. What that means is that marital property shared between spouses is divided equitably, not necessarily equally, upon divorce.
Equitable divisions may be something like a 40/60 split or 30/70 division of your assets. The way you’ll divide those assets is based on many factors specific to your situation.
Deciding how to divide your property
Since you live in an equitable distribution state, that means that you will need to decide how to divide your property with your spouse’s help. If you cannot work together on this issue, then a judge will determine how to divide your marital property. Usually, that’s the last thing that people want to see happen, because they will lose control over how their property is divided. Instead, it’s normally better to try to negotiate and come up with a reasonable division of assets in the relationship.
Many people fear that they will be left with nothing if they use equitable distribution rules. For example, a woman who has stayed at home as a caretaker of small children may feel she won’t be left with anything since she wasn’t working. That’s not necessarily the case. Factors such as the money you put into the marriage, who purchased which assets, who took care of the household and others should be discussed when determining a fair division of your assets.
For instance, if the woman above stayed home and gave up her career to provide childcare for their children because her spouse earned more, she may actually be able to seek spousal support and a greater portion of assets to help her as she focused on getting back to work in her industry and building up her career once again following her divorce.
Divide only marital property
Remember that you should only divide your marital property, not your separate property. Some items, like inheritances or items you bought before your marriage, may not be shared property and could be excluded from the property division process. Identifying as many of those separate property items as possible will help you minimize the loss of assets during your divorce.
It can be scary to go through divorce and to think about dividing your property up, but with the right documentation and support, you can come up with a fair solution.