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How do Illinois courts decide how to divide marital property?

Contrary to popular belief, property and assets acquired during the course of marriage are not always split in half when a couple divorces in Illinois. Rather, the courts attempt to split the property in a fair and equitable manner if the couple cannot reach a property division agreement on their own. When this happens, a judge will examine several factors in order to determine the best way to divide the marital property.

Before a judge can make any decision about how to divide the marital property, he or she must first determine which assets are marital properties and which are not. This is not as complicated as it sounds since the state recognizes that all property obtained in the course of a marriage is considered to be marital property.

Here are some of the factors judges use to make a determination.

-- The contributions each spouse made to the marital property

-- The length of the marriage

-- The value of any property you and your spouse acquired throughout the marriage

-- The economic circumstances of you and your spouse

-- Issues such as the health, age, income sources, occupations, skills, employability of each spouse

-- Child support if the marriage produced children

-- Whether you and your spouse will have reasonable opportunity for future income

-- How taxes arising from the property division may affect each spouse's economic circumstances

Although, the system is fairly simple in most cases, you might benefit from an attorney's guidance during property division. A lawyer can advocate on your behalf and ensure your rights have not been violated during the divorce and the property division process. Your attorney can also provide you with assistance if you think your spouse may be hiding assets to keep them out of your hands.

Source: FindLaw, "Illinois Marital Property Laws," accessed March 21, 2016

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