Not surprisingly, the decisions about how to divide assets and debts are some of the most contested aspects of divorce proceedings in Joliet. When it comes to identifying, evaluating, and dividing marital property, it can be difficult to come to an arrangement that is considered fair by both parties in a divorce. If you are involved in divorce proceedings in Joliet, or even just considering divorce or a legal separation, it may be wise to talk to a local lawyer for help with division of assets from your marriage. Our firm could help you evaluate the property at issue and explain how the courts would be likely to divide your property and debts if you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement on your own.

Types of Assets Involved

Before property can be divided, you and your spouse must—with assistance from attorneys if needed—take inventory to determine which assets you both own jointly and which you each own separately. Some large assets, such as houses and cars, often spring to mind immediately, while others may not be so obvious. For instance, you may have a pension or retirement savings which your spouse may have little to do with, but Illinois law may still consider it a joint marital asset. One spouse may also hold stock options or other assets which have the potential for value in the future. To some extent, the same logic may be applied to investments and personal household property as well. “Title” does not matter. The question that you must ask is whether the item in question was acquired during the marriage. If the item in question was acquired during the marriage, the court presumes that it belongs to the marriage.

Pets used to be divided as marital property, but a recent change in Illinois law now gives parties to a divorce the chance to argue that they should be entitled to custody of the pet based on the level of care they provide.

Division of Debts

In addition to assets, you and your spouse will need to divide your debts. During divorce proceedings, Illinois law takes into account each party’s responsibility for incurring debts.While the person named on an account or making the purchase may be directly responsible for the debt, sometimes it may be necessary to analyze whether the expense benefited the family together or just one party to determine who should bear responsibility for the debt.

Marital and Nonmarital (Separate) Assets

After identifying assets and debts, you and your spouse need to categorize them as marital or nonmarital. Generally, marital property includes property acquired and debts incurred during the course of the marriage, and nonmarital property is property owned before the start of the marriage or obtained after separation. However, some property acquired during your marriage may be treated as nonmarital property, including property one party receives as a gift or inheritance.

Factors Used to Divide Assets and Debt

There are a number of specific factors used by courts in Illinois to determine how your assets and debts will be divided.  In most cases, marital property is not automatically split 50/50. Instead, Illinois law provides a scheme of equitable division to allocate property and debt. Essentially, the court tries to determine a “fair” distribution of property based on factors such as:

  • Each party’s contribution to the increase or decrease in the value of property
  • The total value of all property
  • The economic circumstances of each party
  • The age and residence of children of the marriage
  • The age, health, and income potential income of the parties
  • Terms in enforceable prenuptial or postnuptial agreements

Our Firm’s Experience in the Division of Assets in Joliet

Because the process of determining an equitable division of property can be so complicated and emotionally charged, it is often wise to work with an experienced professional who could provide a neutral perspective on the valuation and legal distribution of your assets and debts.

Our experienced legal team could advocate on your behalf to help you understand the process and to keep the assets that are most important to you. In addition, our lawyers could work to ensure that your rights are protected throughout the division of assets process in your Joliet divorce. Contact our office now to learn how we could help you obtain a positive result in your case.