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Dividing Assets in a Divorce

broken heart on a broken plate, divorceThe equitable division of assets in a divorce requires accurately accounting for physical and financial assets, debts, and liabilities. In Illinois, the division of assets may be done by the couple with the assistance of their attorney, a mediator, or it may be ordered by the court.

It is important to remember that the State of Illinois divides assets equitably; not equally. In cases where the couple cannot agree on the division of assets, the courts will seek to divide the assets in such a way that is fair to both parties and will put both in the best position to move forward when the divorce is finalized. It’s also important to note that the state does not afford unmarried or same-sex couples the same rights regarding property division.

The Court’s Consideration of Assets

In instances where the court is required to determine the appropriate division, the judge will consider the following:

  • Non-marital property including small businesses, real estate, accounts, etc. that were established or purchased prior to the marriage.
  • The terms listed within any prenuptial agreements.
  • The age, health, and earning capacity of both spouses.
  • Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage. This includes both financial and “homemaker” contributions.
  • Factors including primary parenting responsibilities, alimony, etc.
  • The tax liabilities connected with the division and awarding of assets.

Assessing Asset Value

It is crucial to hire an appraiser to determine the accurate value of retirement accounts, real property, vehicles, and other valuables such as artworks, jewelry, and collectibles. Working with an appraiser and a Lake County divorce attorney is essential to determine the real value of these items is essential for identifying the most equitable division of assets in a divorce.

Assigning Debts

The court will seek the most equitable division of marital debt possible. Such debts might include credit cards, secured loans, student loans, medical bills, etc. In cases where one spouse is awarded more property, it is common for the court to also award that individual more debt to offset the difference.

Illinois is not a community property state. This means that when assigning debt, the court can also consider when the debt was incurred and the reasons for the purchase. For example, if a large purchase was made on a spouse’s credit card following the filing of the divorce petition. In such cases, these debts can be assigned to the spouse who made the purchase without it being calculated into the division of other assets.