No couple enters into marriage with the goal of divorcing one day — but divorce can happen to anybody. When a couple decides to end their union, one of the questions they have to grapple with is how marital property will be divided. Like other aspects of divorce, the laws of property division vary from state to state.
Illinois is an equitable division state. This means that marital property and debts are divided with an eye toward what’s fair, not necessarily 50/50. Here are two factors that can influence how a court decides a couple’s assets and liabilities should be split:
Each spouse’s financial position and earning power
If one party is going to be left in a bad financial position following the divorce, and the other party is well off, the court is going to factor this when making its ruling. This is especially true if the party that does not have a lot of assets or earning potential was a stay-at-home parent who was taking care of the household and children while the other partner was at work. A stay-at-home parent who is likely to struggle to find a well-paying job may be awarded more property during the divorce so that they can get restarted.
Each spouse’s contribution to the marital pot
The court will also take into account each party’s contribution towards the marriage when ruling on property distribution. Besides actual financial contributions, the court will also take into account each spouse’s “sweat equity” contributions. If the stay-at-home partner fostered the other spouse’s career, or if their contribution to the household included taking care of children and performing household chores, the court will definitely take note of contributions when allocating property.
Similarly, each spouse’s contributions to the household debts may also be considered. If a spouse is a gambler, a “shopaholic” or has spent a lot on luxuries, they may be given the lion’s share of the marital debts, as well.
Property division tends to be one of the most contentious components of the divorce process. Understanding how marital property is divided in Illinois can help you navigate this phase of life and get what you deserve.