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Married Illinoisans spend years commingling their assets. But, when they get divorced, Illinoisans need to unwind those same assets in a matter of weeks or months. That is not always easy. Who deserves what? How much if fair? Inevitably, each spouse has a different answer to those questions. To prepare for those questions though, it is important to have an accurate picture of the couple’s assets. Developing that picture begins with systematically thinking through the various asset categories.

A good starting point is real property. Does the couple have a home? How about a vacation house or rental property? What about business property or undeveloped land?

The next, and longer, step is to catalogue personal property. This category can take a long time to examine because it covers so many things from a car to golf clubs, to home furnishings to luxury goods. Most things are personal property.

Next are financial assets. These include common assets, like cash and other accounts, like a checking, savings or retirement accounts. It also includes investments, like stocks, bonds and mutual funds. And, it can include more exotic fare, like annuities, trust assets and the cash values of certain life-insurance policies.

For business-owning couples, another category is business assets. These include not only the business and its assets, but also potentially less obvious ones like a spouse’s professional degree.

The above is a good start, but it is only a start. Illinoisans who want to maximize their property-division results may benefit from discussing their situation with an experienced divorce attorney. Doing so could make all the difference.

Source:, “Checklist: Dividing Marital Property,” accessed on Oct. 26, 2015