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How is property divided in an Illinois divorce?

Getting divorced can be an incredibly painful process. Not only are people struggling with the emotional impact of ending a marriage, they also need to deal with physically dividing their things. For many people, dividing assets turns into the most upsetting and contentious part of a divorce because it is tangible proof that one household is becoming two.

However, knowing what to expect during this process can make it a little easier. Below is a basic breakdown of how the property division process works in Illinois.

Marital vs. non-marital property

In accordance with Illinois laws, in general, only marital property is eligible for distribution. Any property considered separate or non-marital belongs to one person and will not be divided. However, there can be challenges with categorizing property, particularly if assets were co-mingled.

Equitable distribution

Once property is categorized, it can be divided. Illinois observes equitable distribution laws. This means that property will divided in a manner deemed fair based on several factors. These factors include contributions to the marriage, length of the marriage, custody provisions, tax consequences and the health of each person. You won't walk away with nothing, and you may not walk away with equal shares of the property.

Other considerations

You should keep in mind that you don't have leave the division of assets in the hands of a judge. You can -- and often will be required to -- try to come to an agreement on asset division with your ex through mediation. Additionally, if you have a prenuptial agreement in place, it could provide critical guidance during this process. 

Hopefully, this gives you a basic idea of what you can expect when the time comes to divide assets during your divorce. Of course, the actual process is going to be complicated, frustrating, tedious and potentially quite upsetting. But with a basic understanding of the steps involved and the help of an experienced attorney, you can get through this difficult process and turn your focus toward the future.

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