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Property Division Is Complex – You Need a Chicago Divorce Attorney That Will Protect Your Assets
Whether you and your ex-spouse are millionaires and acquired substantial assets during your marriage or you and your spouse were scraping to get by, property division is a feature common to nearly every Illinois divorce. Illinois law gives courts a great deal of discretion in distributing the marital asset of the parties and only requires the court to treat each party fairly and equitably under the circumstances. This means that while both parties must be treated fairly – a judge cannot deliberately award one party more assets because of a like or dislike for the other ex-spouse – the court is not necessarily required to give each spouse “half” of the property.
What Is Marital Property?
One issue that is frequently litigated in an Illinois divorce is identifying the divorcing couple’s “marital assets.” Only marital assets are subject to property division: any property that one spouse acquired prior to the marriage is typically not considered marital property. Marital property is generally defined as that property and those assets that the couple acquired during the course of the marriage regardless of which spouse’s work or activity actually resulted in its acquisition. Marital property, therefore, can include:
- Personal property like clothing, cars, books, and other tangible things;
- Real estate;
- Collectibles like coins, guns, and other valuables; and
- A business’s value, if one or both spouses started a business while married.
Because identification of all marital property is essential to ensuring there is a fair distribution of that marital property, the legal assistance of an experienced Chicago divorce attorney is usually recommended.
What Happens to Marital Property When a Divorce Is Filed?
Because divorces can take months (or, in some cases, years) to be resolved, courts will enter temporary orders that govern the parties until the divorce is finalized. Courts will usually order both parties to preserve and refrain from disposing of marital assets. This means that parties cannot:
- Sell marital assets without the court’s permission;
- Willingly allow marital property to be at an unreasonable risk of destruction or theft (i.e., you cannot put your spouse’s clothing in a box by the curb);
- Donate marital assets or gift marital assets to friends or family; or
- Destroy marital assets.
An ex-spouse who violates these temporary orders can be punished through the court’s contempt powers and/or may be awarded a smaller share of the remaining marital assets.
How Does a Court Determine How to Divide Marital Assets?
Illinois statutes tell courts to consider all relevant circumstances in determining how to divide marital assets. These circumstances and factors include:
- The contribution of each party to the acquisition of the asset or increase in its value;
- The value of each piece of property or asset assigned by the parties;
- The economic circumstances of each party;
- Any agreements reached by the parties; and
- Other relevant factors and circumstances.
Most property division orders are final once the court enters the order, so it is important that the court be made aware of all of the circumstances and facts present in your divorce.
Consult With Our Chicago Divorce Lawyer
Attorneys with Arami Law can ensure that in the event you and your ex-spouse cannot agree on how to divide property between the two of you, that the court considers all the appropriate circumstances and enters an award that is fair and equitable to you. Contact our office by calling (312) 584-6355 and schedule your consultation today.
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