Asset division is one of the more complex and time-consuming aspects of a divorce. Some couples can spend months or even years in divorce court arguing over who gets certain pieces of property in the divorce. If you sense a divorce on your horizons, it’s important to have a basic understanding of how marital assets are typically divided. Check out this blog from our family law specialist in Charleston, IL, to get a basic overview of how marital property is typically divided.


What Is a Marital Asset?

First, it’s important to understand what marital property is and isn’t. Anything that you owned prior to your marriage that was kept separate even during your marriage is considered individual property. So, if you owned your house before marriage and your new spouse moved in, but you never put their name on anything related to the house or your mortgage, then that’s separate property. Additionally, any assets you acquired after filing for legal separation are your own, as is any property you inherited or received as a gift during your marriage. Make a detailed list of your separate property to ensure that you retain those assets in the divorce.


Any other assets that you and your spouse may own would be considered marital property. These are assets acquired during the marriage, including income, physical property, and money put into any joint accounts. These are the assets that will be divided in your divorce.


Know Your State’s System

Property ownership and division in a divorce is handled differently in different states, so it’s important to know which system your state follows. If you’re an Illinois resident, then your divorce would fall under the common law system. This system adheres to the understanding that property owned by an individual spouse belongs only to that spouse. So, if you were married when you bought your home, but you put only your spouse’s name on the deed, the common law system would award that property to your spouse. This system aims to distribute property fairly between spouses, but not necessarily 50/50.

The other system is called the community property system, and it’s only used in Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. This system follows the belief that all property acquired in a marriage should be divided equally, regardless of whose name is on the deed. In these states, marital assets are almost always divided right down the middle.


Negotiate for What Matters

Regardless of your state’s property ownership system, there’s usually some room for negotiation with your ex regarding how assets will be divided. For example, let’s assume you’re both listed on the deed of your current home. Equal asset division would require you to sell the home and split the profits evenly. However, if you wish to remain in the property, you may be able to offer your ex assets or cash equal to their share of the profits you’d make if you sold the home.


It’s always best to negotiate asset division terms through the use of an affordable family law attorney in Charleston, IL. We can help to ensure you’re treated fairly and that your rights are protected. If you need an experienced and affordable attorney in your corner during your divorce, contact the Law Offices of Winter-Black & Baker today by calling 217-235-3400.