In the majority of states in the U.S., including Illinois, marital property is divided by equitable division. Compared with community property states, where all the property value is pooled together and split down the middle, equitable division allows the courts to determine how the property is divided, which may or may not be divided equally.
Before any property division decisions are made, the courts must first determine which property is marital property, and which property is not. In most cases, marital property is property that is obtained during the course of a marriage. There are exceptions to this, however.
Property that is obtained as a gift, such as an inheritance, is not considered marital property. But, if the inheritance is used for purposes that benefits both spouses, such as an upgrade to the home, then it becomes marital property. The same is true of the inheritance if it is placed in a joint bank account to be used by both spouses for family expenses.
The courts will look at several factors when making their decisions regarding how the property is split. This may include the length of the marriage, the financial situation of each spouse after the divorce and, if children are involved, who will be the custodial parent. The courts always put an emphasis on protecting the best interests of the children, and this could also be a factor in the property division decision making process.
It is important to understand how property division is handled during the process of a divorce. It might be in your best interests during these times to reach out to get more information about divorce law to make certain that the decisions are handled fairly in the courts. Your future and finances are too important to take lightly.
Source: Live About, “How Does The Court Determine If Property is Marital Or Non-Marital Property?” Cathy Meyer, Oct. 15, 2016