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Predicting property distribution in Illinois divorces

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Divorce is a difficult decision for married people to make, but the process itself does not have to be difficult. Illinois has some of the simplest procedures for filing for divorce in the United States, with a 90-day residency requirement for the spouse filing for a fault or no-fault divorce.

Complications may arise, however, when the time comes to distribute assets from the marriage to the individual partners. This may include real estate, savings accounts, financial instruments, retirement portfolios or business assets that were created or purchased before or during the marriage.

Illinois is known as an "equitable distribution" state, meaning that assets are divided up for the former spouses in a fair way as deemed by the court. Spouses are encouraged to arrive at a settlement before or during the filing period. The court will otherwise make the determination of fair distribution on its own.

Equitable does not mean equal; it is rare that assets are split in half by value. The court considers elements such as each spouse's individual contribution to the value or depreciation of property, as well as the economic condition that each person will find themselves in after the marriage.

The need to maintain a family home for children or dependents is also taken into account. Reasonable expectations that one spouse will be more likely to earn or receive more value in property or income may be a factor.

Some property may be exempt from division; this is referred to as nonmarital property. For the most part, this property reverts to the individual who owned, purchased or inherited it. A lawyer can be helpful in determining what property will be subject to a settlement or court decision.

Source: DivorceSource, "Illinois Divorce Laws," accessed Aug. 31, 2017

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