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 are in 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....