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What Does Equitable Distribution Actually Mean?

Posted on in Divorce

Markham Divorce LawyerWhen a spouse starts exploring the possibility of divorce, he or she is often met with confusing legal jargon and complex divorce laws. It can be hard to interpret dense legal information in preparation for a divorce. One issue that causes an especially high degree of confusion is property division. Divorcing spouses are often unsure of what is theirs and what is their spouse’s property. They are unsure of what they will keep after the split and worry about what they will be forced to give up during the divorce. This blog will provide a general outline of equitable division in an Illinois divorce.

Who Owns What?

Non-marital property is property that belongs to one of the spouses while marital property is jointly owned by both spouses. Property that a spouse purchases or otherwise acquires before getting married is non-marital property. Money and property that a spouse acquires during the marriage is marital property.

How Do Divorcing Spouses Divide Property?  

Divorcing spouses will need to divide marital property during the divorce process. For couples with relatively few assets, this is fairly straightforward. However, property division can become a complicated and contentious issue for some.

A couple may be able to work out a property division settlement outside of the courtroom. Mediation can be a helpful tool for discussing property issues and reaching a mutually agreeable asset division arrangement. The spouses’ attorneys may also negotiate a property division settlement on behalf of their respective clients. If the spouses cannot reach an agreement, the court will make a decision based on the legal concept of equitable distribution.

Does the Court Divide Assets 50/50?

The word “equitable” means fair. Property is divided fairly, but this does not always mean that the spouses will receive exactly the same amount of property. Illinois courts divide property based on many different factors, including:

  • Each party’s contributions to the marital estate

  • Each party’s financial circumstances

  • Each party’s earning potential

  • Any child support or spousal support obligations from a previous relationship

  • Each party’s share of parental responsibilities and parenting time

  • Tax consequences of various property division arrangements

  • The duration of the marriage

What Happens to Marital Debt?

During divorce, spouses must also address debts such as loans, mortgages, and credit card debt. Debts acquired during the marriage are usually considered marital debt. Debt a spouse acquired before the marriage is typically non-marital debt.

Divorcing spouses are often encouraged to pay down joint debt as much as possible during divorce. The spouses could decide to divide marital debts among themselves, but creditors do not necessarily care that a couple got divorced – they just want the debt to be repaid. One spouse may promise to pay off a debt, but if both spouses are legally responsible for the debt, the other spouse may find himself or herself being hounded by creditors long after the divorce.

Contact our Joliet Divorce Lawyer for Help

If you are getting divorced, contact our Will County divorce attorney for guidance during property division. Call The Foray Firm at 312-702-1293 for a confidential consultation.

 

Source:

https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/documents/075000050k503.htm

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