Dividing Marital Property in a Divorce

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During a divorce, dividing marital property can create financial and emotional hardships for the family. Deciding which spouse retains interest in major financial assets usually requires a divorce attorney who can sort through complex issues when spouses don’t agree.

The family home is often the most valuable marital asset, so both spouses may want to keep it after a divorce. Since this isn’t a possibility, one spouse may agree to buy the other spouse out. Typically, this requires refinancing the house to pay off the other spouse, unless there are sufficient funds in some type of existing account. In some cases, both spouses may agree to maintain joint ownership, allowing one spouse to live in the house for a period of time until it is sold. A divorce attorney can draw up a post-divorce agreement that establishes rules and timelines related to the sale of the property. Although a joint ownership agreement does present challenges, it is a good way to preserve equity in the house. If neither spouse wants to keep the house, selling it and dividing the profit is the best solution.

In a divorce where spouses can’t reach some type of agreement on who gets the house, Illinois courts may elect to put the property up for auction or force a sale. This is usually a last resort and only done when no agreement can be reached. If a forced auction or sale occurs, both spouses stand to lose equity and profits.

Under Illinois law, marital property is defined as any property acquired by either spouse during the course of the marriage. Legally, both spouses have an interest in the property, and it is subject to equitable distribution by the court in a divorce. Marital property is not legally determined by which spouse’s name holds title to the property.

During marriage, many couples choose to commingle marital and separate property to make things simpler. Commingling properties and finances makes it easier to keep track of household expenses like the mortgage, home maintenance and repairs, household furnishings, groceries, household bills, and childrens’ expenses. For protection, couples should get more information on dividing marital property in a divorce.