There are many challenges that come with a divorce. The process is complicated, and emotions are often very high. The financial instability that comes with separation, in addition to the costs of divorce, can worsen these feelings. Understanding the process of divorce, in or out of court, could make it less stressful.
If you are considering divorce, you may be wondering what you are entitled to and how that can lessen the financial strain of divorce. It can also be helpful to understand the process of dividing marital assets. In Illinois, the court divides property fairly, but this does not always mean equally.
If you and your spouse have an amicable relationship, you will want to work through the division of property by yourselves or with the help of a divorce mediator. This gives you control over the division's outcomes. If you and your partner are unable to come to an agreement, a petition to the court is necessary to allocate property and assets through equitable distribution.
Marital property includes any property that the spouses have acquired since the beginning of their marriage. Non-marital property includes property from before marriage, a gift, or an inheritance that was owned or given to one spouse individually. Additionally, some premarital agreements specifically list certain assets as being non-marital property. Non-marital property is not divided through equitable distribution in court, but all marital property is. Equitable distribution of marital property includes debts and assets, as well as any obligations accumulated by spouses or their children during the marriage.
Marital property often includes:
Situations such as owning a business together can complicate the process of property division. If one or both parties have substantial assets, the divorce process may be prolonged. It is unwise to work through asset division alone, especially in complicated scenarios. You will want to consult with an experienced attorney who can help find a fair and equitable solution.
If your property division goes through court, the judge will review several factors when determining what makes for a fair and equitable split of assets and property. Equitable distribution does not mean an even split. Instead, the court examines those factors over the course of the marriage to find a fair division. Some examples include:
Illinois law does not consider marriage misconduct, such as adultery, when dividing assets. There is a much greater focus on economic standing, so if you are the lower-earning spouse, you are likely to receive more of the marital assets and property in division.
In Illinois, spousal support is often called maintenance, and it is awarded most often when one spouse has a significantly higher income or earning capacity than the other spouse. The goal of maintenance is for both spouses to maintain the same standard of living and financial position they would have had if the divorce had not occurred.
There are a few ways maintenance could be assigned, depending on the needs of both parties.
Permanent or temporary maintenance could end early if the financial circumstances of either spouse change significantly in a way that was unexpected when support was calculated. Circumstances such as the receiving spouse's remarriage or living with a new partner will also end spousal support.
A: Alimony, or maintenance, is paid to a spouse in Illinois based on their financial needs, ability to earn, and other factors. Maintenance is then calculated based on the difference in each party’s income. If you qualify for alimony payments from a marriage that lasted 9 to 10 years, those payments will last for 40% of the marriage’s length.
A: Who receives maintenance in Illinois depends on the financial standing and income of each spouse. The higher-earning spouse will pay 33% of their net income minus 25% of the lower-earning spouse’s net income. This amount is the yearly maintenance paid in most cases, with some exceptions. For example, the spouse receiving maintenance cannot earn more than 40% of the combined net income from receiving the support.
A: Assets are divided according to equitable distribution and are thus rarely divided equally. Many factors during marriage can impact how assets are divided, as can the economic standing of each spouse and their ability to earn assets after divorce. An equitable division could end up being very uneven based on external factors.
A: The court looks at the length of the marriage when determining alimony or maintenance. There is no set length of time a couple must be married. The longer you are married, the more likely the lower-earning spouse will be awarded alimony. A shorter marriage will likely result in no or temporary alimony. A longer marriage may lead to permanent alimony.
Whether you are planning on dividing assets through mediation or in court, it is important to have an expert attorney guide you through the process. Contact the knowledgeable divorce attorneys at Vahey Law & Mediation, LLC, today.