The Name on the Title May Not Matter in Divorce
If you and your spouse are getting divorced, it may seem reasonable to assume that you would get to keep the assets and debts that are in your name while your spouse keeps those that in are in or hers. While such an assumption may be fairly logical, the reality of divorce is often much different, as the laws that govern divorce in Illinois are intended to ensure an equitable distribution of marital property.
Understanding Equitable Distribution
A few states require marital property to be evenly divided during a divorce. These states use what is called a “community property” system, meaning that any assets and debts acquired during the marriage—except for a few limited exceptions—belong equally to both spouses. In a divorce in community property states, the property must be divided equally.
Illinois is not a community property state; it follows a system referred to as “equitable distribution.” Under the principles of equitable distribution, the marital estate is to be divided between the parties in a divorce in a manner that is fair and just, not necessarily a 50-50 split. To determine what is fair and just, the court must take into account a wide variety of factors, including each party's income and earning ability, arrangements for the parties' children, and the standard of living established during the marriage.
Assets that are titled in the name of only spouse often create questions, however, even following the principles of equitable distribution. According to Illinois law, the name on a deed or mortgage means virtually nothing without some other agreement between the parties regarding the status of an asset. When the asset was acquired matters much more. For example, if you bought a luxury sports car and paid it off in full five years prior to getting married, the car, in most cases, would be yours and not subject to division as marital property in divorce. If, however, you bought the car five years after you got married and you paid for it with your normal income, it would be considered a marital asset.
None of this is to suggest that you may not be able to keep the assets that are important to you during your divorce. It just means that keeping certain things may not be automatic. You may need to make compromises and offer concessions to your spouse so that the overall division of assets can remain fair and equitable.
We Can Help
If you have more specific questions about how property is divided in a divorce, contact an experienced Kane County divorce attorney. Call 630-665-7300 to speak with a member of our team today and get the answers you need. MKFM Law is proud to help clients throughout the region get the divorce settlements they deserve.