When the financial stakes are high in a Chicago divorce, property division is one of the important issues you must deal with. In some cases, the division of assets may be fairly straightforward, while in others, disputes may arise over the ownership or allocation of marital and non-marital property.
At Swietkowski & Swietkowski, P.C., you will meet a family law attorney in Chicago who is here to help clients navigate the complexities of property division in divorce, whether it involves negotiation or litigation. We take pride in delivering the most satisfactory legal solutions that protect our clients’ futures and financial well-being.
The task of dividing marital assets can sometimes evoke intense emotions or distrust between the parties and lead to hasty, unfavorable financial decisions. When you work with us, you have the support of knowledgeable Chicago property division attorneys who will guide you through the process with care and diligence, ensuring your best interests are always upheld.
How Does the Property Division Work in a Chicago Divorce?
Illinois is an “equitable distribution” state, which means that marital assets and debts are divided fairly (equitably), but not necessarily equally, between the divorcing spouses. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/) provides the legal framework for property division in the state.
Marital vs. non-marital property
The first step in property division is determining which assets are considered marital property and which are non-marital property. Marital property includes all assets acquired during the marriage, regardless of whose name is on the title. Non-marital property refers to assets acquired before the marriage, gifts or inheritances received by one spouse, or property acquired after a legal separation.
Once marital property is identified, the court will consider various factors to ensure a fair distribution. Factors include each spouse’s contribution to the acquisition and maintenance of the property, the duration of the marriage, the economic circumstances of each spouse, the value of the property, and the needs of the children, among others.
Retirement accounts and pensions
Retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s and pensions, are often subject to division if they were acquired or contributed to during the marriage. This may require a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) to divide the accounts without incurring penalties or tax consequences.
Businesses and professional practices
If a business or professional practice was established during the marriage, it may be considered marital property. Valuation and division can be complex, often involving the assistance of financial experts to ensure an accurate and fair distribution.
Debts and liabilities
Marital debts, such as mortgages, credit card debt, and loans, are also subject to equitable distribution. The court will consider factors like which spouse incurred the debt, the purpose of the debt, and each spouse’s ability to repay.
Maintenance (alimony) and child support
The court may also consider the impact of maintenance and child support on the property division, especially if one spouse has significantly more earning capacity than the other.
What Qualifies as Marital Property in Illinois?
A crucial aspect of the divorce process in Illinois involves determining the couple’s “marital assets.” It is important to understand that only marital assets are subject to division during a divorce; property acquired by a spouse before the marriage is typically considered separate and not subject to division. Marital assets are defined as those properties and assets that the couple acquired during their marriage, regardless of which spouse’s efforts or actions led to the acquisition.
Marital assets can encompass a wide range of items, including:
- Personal belongings: Items such as clothing, cars, books, and other tangible objects are considered marital assets if acquired during the marriage.
- Collectibles: Valuable items like coins, firearms, antiques, or other collectibles that the couple acquired during the marriage are also considered marital assets.
- Real estate: Any real property purchased or acquired during the marriage is considered marital property, including the family home or investment properties.
- Business value: If one or both spouses started a business while married, the value of that business is considered a marital asset and is subject to division.
Accurately identifying all marital assets is crucial for ensuring a fair distribution during the divorce process. This is where a skilled and detail-oriented Chicago property division attorney at Swietkowski & Swietkowski, P.C. can help. To effectively identify and evaluate important marital assets, we work with experts across several fields, such as business, real estate, accounting, taxation, pension management, and more. Our main goal in these cases is to present a clear picture of your assets and develop a plan to divide them in a way that benefits you.
What Is Non-Marital Property in Chicago?
Non-marital property in Illinois refers to assets that are not subject to division during a divorce. This typically includes assets acquired by either spouse before the marriage or under specific circumstances during the marriage. Non-marital property can include:
- Property acquired by either spouse before the marriage
- Inheritances received by either spouse, either before or during the marriage
- Gifts received by either spouse from a third party, either before or during the marriage
- Property acquired by either spouse after a legal separation
- Property specifically excluded from marital property through a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement
- Any property acquired in exchange for non-marital property
- Any increase in value of non-marital property, as long as the increase is not due to the contribution of the other spouse
It should be noted that non-marital property in Chicago can become marital property under certain circumstances, such as commingling assets or making significant contributions to the asset’s growth.
Factors That Will Impact Your Property Division in a Chicago Divorce
Since property doesn’t have to be divided 50/50 in the state of Illinois, judges take into account a variety of factors to distribute the assets and debts:
- Duration of the marriage
- Each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, including income, homemaker contributions, and other factors
- Financial obligations from previous marriages or children
- Value of assigned property, including non-marital assets
- An award of spousal maintenance
- Any dissipation of assets, such as spending or selling off valuable assets
- Each spouse’s economic circumstances, including their ability to provide for children and their parenting time, physical or mental health issues that may affect their ability to obtain employment, education, and job training or experience
- Any agreements previously made between the parties, such as a prenuptial agreement
- Any other factors that the court deems relevant to the case
Choose the Trusted Chicago Property Division Lawyers to Secure Your Financial Future
Divorce can be one of life’s toughest challenges, and when it comes to dividing marital property, the stakes are always high. That’s why at Swietkowski & Swietkowski, P.C., we’re dedicated to providing compassionate, effective representation to help you achieve the best possible outcome.
Our tenacious divorce attorneys have the experience and expertise necessary to help you navigate this complex process. We’ll work closely with you to understand your priorities and goals, and will fight tirelessly to ensure that your rights are protected every step of the way.
Whether you’re facing a contentious legal battle for the division of marital assets and debts, or are seeking a more collaborative approach, we’ll be there to guide you through the process with confidence and ease. With Swietkowski & Swietkowski, P.C. by your side, you can be sure that you will emerge from your divorce with the best possible outcome for your financial future.
To schedule your free, no-obligation consultation, give us a call at (773) 207-8983 or send us a message online.