For many couples, dividing the marital estate is one of the most challenging elements of the divorce process. Before the property that constitutes the marital estate can be allocated between the spouses, the value of the assets must be established.
Equitable Distribution in Illinois
With very limited exceptions, Illinois law provides that property—including assets and debts—acquired by either spouse during a marriage is considered marital property. Marital property is subject to division in a divorce. Absent a negotiated agreement between the spouses, the court is statutorily required to divide the marital estate in a manner that is equitable and just based on an examination of a large number of circumstantial factors. It is important to realize that “equitable” does not necessarily mean “equal” so one spouse could receive a larger portion of the marital estate than the other.
Complex Asset Concerns
Some assets—such as a house that purchased and paid off during the marriage—are clearly marital property, while others—such as an antique car that one spouse owned for years before getting married—are clearly non-marital property. Still others—such as a business or a retirement plan—may have begun before the marriage but continued to accumulate value during the marriage. In most cases, the portion of an asset’s value that was accrued during the marriage is considered marital property with the remainder considered non-marital property.
For example, if you enrolled in a retirement plan when you were 22 years old, married at 30, and divorced at 45, the value of your retirement savings would be considered in two parts. The value accumulated during the eight years prior to your marriage would be non-marital and the value accumulated during the marriage would be marital.
Calculating the Correct Value
Even if you and your spouse can reach a property division agreement on your own, it is still important to establish the correct value of your marital assets. This information is critical so that you can make informed decisions and protect your best interests. For more complex assets, including real estate, business holdings, and long-term investments, you may need to enlist the help of outside professionals and experts. If you and your spouse present the court with different valuations for particular assets, it will be up to the court to determine which is more reasonable or to find a workable compromise.
Seek Divorce Guidance
If you are considering a divorce, contact an experienced Rolling Meadows divorce attorney for help. Call 847-253-3100 for a free consultation at Cosley Law Office today. We will provide the assistance you need during this challenging time