Figuring out who should get what is often one of the most difficult parts of a divorce. Regardless of your individual work and financial situations, you both likely have opinions about what would be fair and reasonable for asset division.
Chances are very good that those opinions don't line up well. If you can't reach a mutual agreement outside of court, that means that the Illinois courts will make those critical decisions on your behalf.
It can feel unnerving to have your financial future essentially in the hands of a stranger. The better you understand how the Illinois courts split up your assets, the better you'll be able to understand potential or likely outcomes in your case.
Equitable division leaves most of your possessions vulnerable
Every state has its own laws and rules regarding the division of marital assets. In Illinois, the standard that the courts adhere to is known as the equitable division standard. The courts will look at a number of factors from your marriage in their attempt to find the best and most fair means of splitting up your possessions and debts.
Under equitable division laws, most everything you acquire during marriage is potentially subject to division. Those vulnerable assets will typically include accounts and assets held solely in your name, including your bank accounts, retirement accounts and pension, or at least the amount accrued during marriage.
Just because the ownership paperwork says your name and not your spouse's does not mean that your spouse doesn't have partial ownership rights. The courts worry far more about when you acquired or funded the assets as opposed to whose name is on the account.
Attempting to hide assets could be a major mistake
Many working adults feel intense frustration at the prospect of sharing something they acquired through their hard work with their ex. However, it's important to understand that marriage involves a commingling of your assets and financial futures.
Unless you have an ironclad prenuptial agreement that limits what assets your ex has a claim to, the courts will view anything you acquired during marriage as marital property. Attempting to hide those assets to protect them for yourself could cause more problems than you might imagine. You should instead disclose everything and strategize for a positive outcome.
If the courts discover that you have intentionally hidden assets for your own benefit, they may penalize you when they finalize or revisit the asset division decision in your divorce. Although it can be frustrating to make personal assets like a pension accessible to your ex and the courts, doing so will protect you more than an attempt to hide them.