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Divorce and Your Illinois Marital Home: Your Two Options Under State Law

Posted on in Divorce

marital home, marital property, distribution of property, home appraisal, asset valuationAside from the direct impact of divorce on your children and the emotional toll on your psyche, perhaps one of the most important questions that requires your immediate attention is, "What do we do about the house"?

If you reside in Illinois, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5), states that there should be equitable distribution of all marital property in a divorce. Marital property covers everything from the marital home, finances, vehicles and recreational toys down to all household content acquired during the marriage. Although the decision regarding the family home may prove the most difficult.

Your divorce attorney will review your overall situation, including all variables playing into the decision over the home. Depending on your family needs, you and your spouse may decide that you will remain in the marital home with the children, but you will need to order an appraisal to determine your buy out cost to satisfy your spouse’s interest in the home. If on the other hand, you are open to placing the home on the market and once sold, you will be able to equally split the proceeds with your spouse.

Which ever option you choose, it is best to order an appraisal to establish the true market value of the home.

 The Appraisal Process

The first step is to contract a licensed appraiser who will conduct an investigation of your marital home. The appraiser is required to research the legal description of the home, recover evidence of ownership and disclose any possible liens against the property. It is also the responsibility of the appraiser to evaluate the fair market value.

It is important to remember that appraisers are protected under the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) to ensure that one spouse is not pressuring for a lower market value to lessen the cost of buying the share of the vacating spouse.

All appraisers must objectively evaluate the home from three possible perspectives:

  • The Sales Comparison Approach  - Competitive Market Analysis
  • The Cost Approach - Cost to Rebuild the Home
  • The Income Approach - Rental Income

Because your home is zoned as residential property, the appraiser will calculate your home’s market value using both the Sales Comparison and Cost Approach appraisal formulas.

Often in a divorce situation, in order to save money, many couples will opt to only utilize a licensed real estate sales agent to provide the Competitive Market Analysis (CMA). This evaluation will only cover current trends in the market for your area and not the legal nor the financial research provided by a true appraisal. It is recommended that each spouse contract an independent licensed appraisal to protect individual interests in the home.

If you and your spouse agree on the determination of one appraisal, the division of the family home will be decided upon, but if you and your spouse opt for two appraisals and there is a cost dispute, the courts will determine the outcome.

Deciding to file for a divorce opens the floodgates to so many questions regarding the legal dissolution of your marriage, all of which can be effectively answered and handled by an experienced Illinois divorce attorney. From the first utterance of "I decided to file for divorce" to the fair and equitable distribution of all marital property, you deserve a knowledgeable legal advocate in your corner. The legal team of A. Traub & Associates remains dedicated to serving our clients in the DuPage, Cook, Kane, and Will counties in all matters of divorce and family law. To speak to an experienced attorney, contact our offices at 630-426-0196 today.


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