What Does Equitable Property Division Mean?

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act allows courts to divide marital property ‘equitably’ during a divorce. If you plan to divorce, it is critical to understand what ‘equitable property division’ means and which assets need to be divided. If you have questions after reading this article, our Cook and DuPage County property division attorneys at Gordon & Perlut, LLC can assist you.

Equitable Property Division Definition

States have different ways of deciding how property is divided during a divorce. In “community property” states, marital assets are split 50/50. Illinois is not a community property state.

Illinois is an equitable distribution state. This means the divorce court decides how property is divided based on what is ‘equitable,’ depending on the circumstances. This means property might be divided 50/50, 60/40, 75/25, or another way.

What Do Judges Consider What Is Equitable Property Division?

Judges have considerable discretion in Illinois to determine what ‘equitable’ means. But they mainly consider the same factors when they render their decision. Judges will typically look at these factors:

  • Each party’s age
  • Health
  • Education Level
  • Potential ability to earn income after divorce
  • How long the marriage was
  • How much pre-marital property each person owns
  • Contributions each person made to the marital estate

The judge can consider any or all of the above factors when making property division decisions. However, it cannot consider marital conduct (fault), including domestic violence or adultery, when deciding what ‘equitable’ means. Illinois is a no-fault state for divorce, so who did what to whom during the marriage cannot be considered for property division purposes.

Judges have plenty of latitude to decide what is “equitable”. However, there are general patterns that many judges adhere to. For example, the longer you were married, the more likely the judge may deviate from the 50/50 property division standard, if warranted by the facts. Many marriages that lasted only a few years have 50/50 property division. In marriages that last longer, the judge may provide more property to the spouse who earns less money.

Suppose you were married for 20 years and stayed home with the kids. Your spouse is a CEO at a large corporation in Chicago. She earned most of the income; you raised the kids and home-schooled them. There is a high probability the judge will award more marital property to you because your spouse has a high income, and better job prospects than you do at the moment.

You also could receive alimony payments for a time. The judge also has considerable discretion on this matter, too. The court may rule that you should receive more spousal support while you get training for re-entering the job market.

The Dissipation Exception

If your spouse ran up the credit cards when you filed for divorce, this can be addressed in the divorce decree. This is known as dissipation. Your spouse may be ordered to reimburse you for some of those funds.

Speak To Our Equitable Property Division Attorneys Today

If you are going through a divorce, your legal rights must be fully represented to ensure you receive a fair share of the marital property. Talk to our Cook and DuPage County property division attorneys at Gordon & Perlut, LLC today for assistance.