“Is property divided 50-50 in an Illinois divorce?”
As an Illinois divorce, I get that question a lot. The answer? Yes. And no
I wrote this short FAQ on division of property in an Illinois divorce.
How is property divided in an Illinois divorce?
Property is decided “equitably” in an Illinois divorce. Equitably is a fancy word for fair – it’s probably used just to make things seem more sophisticated. Lawyers like that. I’m just going to use the word “fair.”
A fair division of property might mean that you get 60 percent of the property, and your spouse gets 40 percent, or vice versa. Or perhaps the property will be split equally(50-50).
Who decides what is fair?
Judges decide what a fair division of property is, unless the parties can agree. If spouses can settle a divorce without a trial, or get an uncontested divorce, then the sp0uses choose for themselves what they think is fair.
But what if spouses don’t agree?
Then the judge decides what is fair. If you go to trial, you may very well find out that your version of fair does not comport with the judge’s version. Who do you think will win?
What property is divided in a divorce?
Not all property the spouses own is subject to division upon divorce. Only marital property is divided. Marital property is property that is acquired during the marriage – with a few exceptions that are beyond the scope of this article.
By the way, it doesn’t usually matter much whose name is on the property, or who purchased it. For example, if both spouses have separately-titled bank accounts that were opened and funded during the marriage, they might be under the impression that they get to keep an account simply because only his or her name is on it. That would be wrong. The accounts would be marital property and could be divided upon divorce.
Property division misconceptions are one reason I answer “yes” when someone asked me “Do I need a lawyer for a divorce in Illinois?”
For a bit more about dividing property, you might want to checkout my articles “Dividing property in divorce: Overview,” and “Uncontested Divorce & Marital Settlement Agreements: The Home.”