When a couple decides to divorce, one of the most critical components is dividing their marital property. Illinois upholds an equitable distribution law, meaning the courts generally strive to ensure the fairest possible division of marital property in a divorce. However, numerous factors come into play in property division determinations. Additionally, many couples have the option of resolving their divorces outside of litigation. Therefore, it’s vital to not only know the various ways you could potentially complete your divorce but also the value of legal counsel as you navigate this complicated process.

Questions for Your Bloomington, IL Property Attorney

Property division is likely to be one of the most challenging issues you will need to address in divorce. While you may be focused on the underlying reason for your divorce and the personal issues involved, it’s vital not to lose sight of the financial issues that your divorce requires you to address. The following are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding property division from those approaching the divorce process in Bloomington, IL.

Q: What Does Equitable Distribution Mean?

A: When many people think of property division in divorce, they imagine parting with half of their assets. The reality is that only nine US states require a completely even division of marital property under community property statutes. Every other state upholds equitable distribution, and Illinois is one of these states. Under the equitable distribution standard, the couple must divide their marital property in the fairest and most equitable, though not necessarily equal, manner. It’s possible to resolve property division in Illinois through the court or private alternative dispute resolution. However, no matter how you and your spouse choose to handle divorce, your property division determination must align with the state’s equitable distribution law.

Q: What Property Can I Keep in Divorce?

A: Illinois state law allows divorcing spouses to retain ownership of separate property. This includes anything owned before marriage, gifts, inheritance, and individually owned business assets. Everything else acquired by either spouse during their marriage, including real property, income, and other assets, qualifies as marital property. All marital property is subject to division in an equitable distribution state. The exact manner in which the property is divided depends on various economic factors.

Q: How Do I Prepare for Property Division?

A: To complete the property division process in a Bloomington, IL, divorce, both spouses must provide a financial disclosure statement. This rule applies whether the couple litigates their divorce or pursues alternative dispute resolution. A financial disclosure statement is a detailed packet that includes all relevant financial records. In addition, you must be prepared to provide documentation proving ownership over all separate property you intend to claim as well as records of your marital property that will be cross-referenced with your spouse’s marital property records. Your divorce lawyer can help you gather all the documentation you need to provide for your financial disclosure.

Q: What Happens If I Litigate Divorce?

A: If you and your spouse take your divorce to court, you both must provide financial disclosure statements to the judge overseeing your case. If any discrepancies or disputes arise, the judge will have the final say on resolving these issues. Divorce cases in family court play out similarly to any other civil case. Both spouses have the right to testify and call witnesses, and their respective attorneys have the right to cross-examination. The final ruling concerning property division is entirely out of your hands when you take your divorce to court.

Q: Is Alternative Dispute Resolution Preferable When It Comes to Property Division?

A: Many divorcing couples throughout the US choose alternative dispute resolution instead of litigation to settle their divorces. Alternative dispute resolution like mediation offers more streamlined divorce proceedings, helping both spouses save time and money on the divorce process. As long as both you and your spouse agree to try alternative dispute resolution, it’s possible to resolve your divorce in a relatively brief time while maintaining much more control over the outcome of your property division determination.

Q: What Happens If My Spouse Tries to Hide Assets?

A: It is vital to be honest in your financial disclosure. While mistakes and miscalculations can happen, these must be immediately rectified once discovered. If a divorcing spouse attempts to intentionally defraud the financial disclosure process to shield their assets from divorce, they are likely to face contempt of court and even criminal prosecution. Notify your attorney immediately if you suspect your spouse has hidden assets they did not disclose properly. They will help you determine the best options for revealing this misconduct and ensuring it receives the appropriate attention from the family court system.

Q: Does Property Division Affect Spousal Support?

A: In most equitable distribution states, the judges that determine property division strive to prevent the need for any long-term spousal support agreements between divorcing spouses. However, spousal support may be necessary in some situations, such as any case in which one spouse is entirely financially dependent on the other. In these cases, spousal support can be settled in many ways. For example, the spouse who will need to pay spousal support may be willing to part with a large lump sum of marital assets to negate the need for an ongoing spousal support agreement. Your attorney can help you determine your options for resolving property division and spousal support in your divorce.

Discuss Your Case With a Skilled Attorney

If you are preparing to divorce in Bloomington, IL, you probably have many questions regarding financial disclosure, property division, and the potential economic impact your divorce can have on your future. Every divorce case is unique, and there is no single strategy that will work in every divorce case. The best thing you can do to increase your chances of securing a favorable outcome to property division in your divorce and ensure that you meet all your legal obligations is to work with an experienced divorce attorney. If you have pressing questions about property division in your impending divorce case, contact a Bloomington, IL, divorce attorney.