Division and Valuation of Property and Assets
Illinois is an equitable distribution state. This means that the Court will divide marital property, assets, and debts fairly and equitably between the spouses. However, equitable and fair are not the same as equal and therefore, equitable division does not necessarily mean a 50-50 split of the marital property.
The Court weighs many factors that are set forth in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act to determine what marital assets, debts, and property each spouse will receive in the divorce, including:
- What assets and debts each spouse brought into the marriage;
- The duration of the marriage;
- The ability of both spouses to earn an income;
- The custody (parental responsibilities and parenting time) arrangements; and
- The value of the property and assets.
Before the Court can divide the marital property, it must determine what property is marital and non-marital. In general, property acquired during the marriage is considered martial property. However, there are exceptions and Susan will work with you and explain how the law applies to your specific situation. Susan has the experience and knowledge to protect your property interests and answer your questions regarding Illinois property distribution. Susan is a knowledgeable divorce attorney who will explain the law to you so that you understand what to expect in your divorce proceeding.
There are many different types of property that must be divided in a divorce including: real estate, motor vehicles (cars, campers, motorcycles), boats, artwork and collectibles, jewelry, retirement accounts and pension, ESOP plans, stock options, bank accounts, investment and brokerage accounts, legal settlements (personal injury, medical malpractice, worker’s compensation), and even airline frequent flier miles. Anything of value that is acquired during a marriage can be divided in a divorce and determining the value of marital property is an important part of dividing property. Susan has worked with appraisers, accountants, and other financial professionals to assist in uncovering hidden assets and in determining the value of marital property so that it can be divided fairly. Susan has experience in dealing with complicated issues of property division and ensures that her clients receive their fair share of the marital property.
Generally, property that either spouse brought into the marriage remains that spouse’s non-marital property. If the property is determined to be non-marital, the Court does not have authority to award any portion of the property to the other spouse. However, the Court can take non-marital property into consideration when determining an equitable division of the marital assets and debts.
Non-marital property is defined in the statute as:
- Property acquired by gift, legacy or descent.
- Property acquired in exchange for property acquired before the marriage or in exchange for property acquired by gift, legacy or descent.
- Property acquired by a spouse after a Judgment of Legal Separation.
- Property excluded by valid agreement of the parties.
- Any judgment or property obtained by judgment awarded to a spouse from the other spouse.
- Property acquired before the marriage.
- Increases in value acquired by any method listed above.
- Income from property acquired by any method listed above.
It can be difficult to determine which assets are non-marital property, especially in long-term marriages, when over time it can commingle with marital property. Susan will assess your situation and explain the distinction between marital property and non-marital property and how it applies to your situation. As a certified mediator, Susan knows how to successfully negotiate these situations in order to obtain a settlement that both spouses will accept.
Professional practices (such as dental, medical, or legal) and family owned businesses that are determined to be marital property are treated like other marital assets in a divorce. In general, a business or professional practice is subject to the property division. In instances where the business was acquired prior to the marriage, a non-owner spouse may still be entitled to a portion of the value of the business.
Most owners of family owned businesses want to protect the business from harm during the divorce process. In order for one spouse to buy out the other spouse (typically by trading off other marital assets), a business valuation must be obtained. Susan will work with financial experts including forensic accountants so that the business is appraised properly.
As with family owned businesses, professional practices may also be considered marital assets and therefore, become part of the property division. Even if your spouse is not involved in your practice, whether you are a real estate agent, psychologist, chiropractor, lawyer, doctor, or a financial planner, your practice will be part of the divorce process. Susan understands how important business interests are to her clients so that they can continue to earn a living and she will protect your financial interests and work hard toward keeping your professional practice intact.