Dividing assets is often one of the most challenging parts of the divorce process. This is true even if both parties begin the divorce proceedings in a relatively amicable way, as the property division process is not always cut and dried. Here is a brief primer on how asset distribution is handled in Illinois.
How property division works
Illinois is an equitable distribution state, meaning that two divorcing parties’ assets must be split in a fair, though not necessarily equal, way. As a result, one party may end up receiving fewer assets than the other party does given factors such as his or her income. Examples of assets that are subject to property division in Illinois include bonds, stocks, policies for life insurance, savings accounts, and checking accounts. Other assets range from retirement plans — for example, a 401(k) — to houses, cars, accessories, designer clothes, jewelry and even paintings.
However, any separate property that either party owns is not subject to property division. Separate property refers to any asset that one party acquired prior to getting married. It also includes certain assets acquired during the marriage, such as an inheritance given to one party.
How an attorney can help
Before embarking on the process of dividing assets, it would be wise to consult with a family law attorney. An experienced family law attorney in Illinois can help determine which assets to pursue — versus which assets to concede to the other party — based on the client’s needs and financial best interests. A savvy attorney will fight for the most personally favorable outcome for his or her client while pursuing a fair settlement with the other party.