In Illinois, marital property is divided in an equitable manner in divorce. However, the term equitable does not mean equal. Property may be divided in a wide range of ratios during divorce -- for example, 50-50 or even 60-40 -- depending on the circumstances surrounding a person's case.
In a long-term marriage, the divorce court will attempt to equalize debts, income and assets. In addition, 401(k) accounts, pensions and other types of retirement plans are treated as marital accounts and thus have to be divided, usually equally. Both spouses do have the option of swapping assets as well. For instance, one spouse may choose to keep the marital residence and simply negotiate a payment of cash in exchange for the future ex's share of the home's equity.
Any assets owned before marriage, along with any gifts and inheritances received during the marriage, are a person's to keep. This is true unless the person has put his or her future ex's name on these assets. In addition, these assets must be split if they have been comingled with other of the couple's marital assets. All assets need to be disclosed as part of a divorce proceeding.
An attorney can explain to a person going through divorce what might happen in court if a judge divides the martial assets. Knowing what the Illinois divorce court will likely do may help a person to negotiate an outcome that is reasonable. Fighting over the way in which assets are divided will only lead to fewer assets to split.