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Division of Property Continued: Equitable Distribution

 Posted on June 09, 2015 in Uncategorized

equitable distribution, asset division, Kane County Divorce lawyersFor a large number of divorcing couples, property division is among the most challenging aspects of the entire divorce process. Of course, much of the difficulty depends on how long a couple was married and how much property they accumulated during the marriage. Couples with few or no assets of significant value may be able reach an agreement rather easily, while couples with more complex concerns may end up having to finalize their arrangement through court proceedings. When the court gets involved, the division of property in divorce is governed by the state’s equitable distribution guidelines.

Determining and Valuating the Marital Estate

Prior to the application of equitable distribution principles, the court and the couple must establish what is to be considered marital property. A previous post covered marital and non-marital assets in greater detail, but, in short, marital property is any property acquired by either spouse during the marriage, with certain exceptions for assets such as gifts or inheritances.

The next step in the process requires each piece of marital property to have its value determined. Certain assets, such as a vehicle or a savings account, may be valuated quite easily, while others may require the assistance of professionals. A real estate appraiser, for example, is needed to provide an appraisal of the marital home and any other real property, and a financial professional may be employed to valuate a business or long-term retirement account.

Equitable Distribution

Once the value of the marital estate has been established, the court will allocate assets to each spouse in what it finds to be "just proportions." There is no requirement in Illinois law that marital property must divided evenly between parties; instead it must be divided equitably, based on consideration of many factors, including:

  • Each party’s contributions to the marital estate and its value;
  • Assets dissipated by either party;
  • The value of property allocated to each party;
  • How the allocation of property may affect each party, including each party’s ability to care for any children;
  • The length of the marriage;
  • Any valid prenuptial agreement;
  • The age, health, resources, and needs of each party;
  • Whether spousal maintenance will be awarded or addressed in the allocation of property; and
  • Tax consequences of the property distribution.

As with any legal agreement, a property settlement between divorcing spouses can be extremely complex. The effects of such an agreement may last far into the future, as many divorce settlements even address retirement and life insurance benefits. That is why it is so important to work with an experienced Kane County divorce attorney throughout the property division process. Contact A. Traub & Associates today to schedule a consultation and put our knowledgeable team to work for you.

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