The Concept of Equitable Distribution

equitable distribution, Aurora divorce attorneyFor those who have never experienced divorce, there are often many myths and misconceptions that surround the process. One of the most common of these is the idea that when a couple gets divorced, each spouse is entitled to half of the couple’s property, regardless of where, when, or how the property was acquired. In Illinois, the reality is much different, as state law is very specific about what property is subject to division and that marital property is to be divided equitably, not necessarily equally.

Marital and Non-Marital Property

The first step in equitably dividing marital property in a divorce is determining what, exactly, is marital property. According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, any property that is acquired by either spouse in the course of the marriage is considered marital property. There are limited exceptions to this rule, as assets acquired by gift or inheritance are considered non-marital property. Once the marital estate has been established, the value of each marital and non-martial asset must be determined so that the next stage of the process can begin.

Equitable Distribution

In deciding how to allocate the marital property, the court must look at a number of factors. These factors allow the court to reach a decision regarding what is fair and equitable. By law, such considerations include:

Each spouse’s contribution to the marital estate and its value, including the contributions of stay-at-home parent or homemaker;

  • Each spouse’s age, health, employability, and needs;
  • The length of the marriage;
  • How the allocation of property will affect each spouse;
  • Any obligations from either spouse’s previous marriage;
  • Any claims of dissipation or wasted marital assets;
  • Provisions for the couple’s children;
  • Awards being made for maintenance; and
  • Any prenuptial or postnuptial agreement between the spouses.

Each one of the statutory factors could greatly impact the court’s decision to allocate property in a particular manner. It is the court’s responsibility, in the absence of a negotiated agreement between the parties, to divide the marital estate in such a way that is appropriate to the unique circumstances of the couple in question.

Seek Legal Guidance

If you are considering a divorce and would like to know more about principles of equitable distribution in Illinois, contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney. Call 630-409-8184 to schedule a confidential consultation at the Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C. today. We are equipped to provide the representation and advice you need during a difficult time.

 

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=075000050HPt%2E+V&ActID=2086&ChapterID=0&SeqStart=6100000&SeqEnd=8350000

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