Equitable Distribution During Divorce in Chicago

Understanding property distribution under Illinois law

Asset division is one of the most complex aspects of divorce. Because there are few objective rules about how marital property should be divided, courts are left to consider a number of subjective factors, which can lead to unpredictable - and often unsatisfactory - results. That is why it is usually in the best interests of both parties to resolve their property disputes outside of the litigation process. As attorneys with in-depth knowledge of Illinois equitable distribution law, our team at Downs Law Offices can help you effectively negotiate a property settlement, even with an intractable spouse. We know that effective negotiation often depends on the ability and willingness to go to trial to get the fair results our clients want.

What property is subject to division?

Not all property is subject to equitable distribution under Illinois law, and deciding what property is individual and what is marital is a threshold issue in nearly every divorce case. Even after years of marriage, spouses may still maintain some property that the law considers individual to them rather than a product of the marriage:

  • Property acquired before the marriage
  • Capital gains of nonmarital property without effort from either spouse
  • Property excluded by a valid marital agreement
  • Gifts and inheritance
  • Property acquired in exchange for nonmarital property
  • Income generated by nonmarital property without effort from either spouse

The presumption is toward inclusion in the marital property estate, meaning that the burden is on you and your family law attorney to prove a particular asset is nonmarital, should your case ultimately be litigated. The same is true for your spouse. Understanding how the law treats various types of property is essential to establishing your position during negotiation and mediation.

How is property divided?

Equitable distribution is not equal distribution. Almost invariably one party gets more than the other. In deciding how to divide marital assets and debt, courts examine a number of factors to determine what is fair in light of the contributions and needs of each party:

  • Each spouse’s contribution, including services as a homemaker
  • Unreasonable dissipation of the marital estate by one spouse
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The individual assets of each spouse
  • The earning potential of each spouse
  • The custody arrangement
  • The award of spousal maintenance
  • Tax consequences

There is no mathematical precision to the way in which Illinois courts figure equitable distribution. However, a seasoned family law attorney from Downs Law Offices can use professional experience to shed some insight on the type of result you could expect at trial and direct your negotiations accordingly.

The property settlement you receive during a divorce can affect your life for years to come. You can count on the attorneys of Downs Law Offices to help you anticipate and address all the necessary issues during property negotiations and advocate on your behalf for a favorable and just settlement.

Holistic counsel for complex property issues

Our office is situated in Chicago’s Loop with easy access to parking and public transit. Call Downs Law Offices today at 312-781-1963 or contact us online to schedule a consultation about your divorce issues with one of our dedicated attorneys.