Divorce Q&A: What is Equitable Distribution?

Illinois is an equitable distribution state, unlike many others in our country. So, what does that actually mean?

It means that in property division, things aren’t divided 50/50 as many expect. Instead, they are divided fairly between the parties. This leads most clients to another question: “How does the Court determine what it believes to be fair?”

The answer is more complicated than you may think and worth investigating in greater detail.

Factors That Influence What’s Considered “Fair” in Your Divorce

Couples are sometimes unable to reach what’s called a “settlement” in their case. This means that despite the best efforts of your attorney and your spouse’s attorney to negotiate a settlement, the case goes to trial before the Judge to decide on any unresolved issues.

For example, if you disagree about who is getting the marital residence or how much should be paid as part of one spouse’s interest in the residence, the Judge will decide at trial. His or her decision will be what becomes part of your final Judgment and you must follow it. This takes the power out of your hands.

Should the Judge be forced to make a decision in your case, he or she will consider several factors. Each of these factors are set forth in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Act and include:

  • How long the marriage lasted;
  • The health and age of each party;
  • The occupation, education, employability, and other vocational skills of each party;
  • The value of the marital estate, including any businesses owned by either spouse;
  • Each party’s needs;
  • Debts and liabilities incurred during the marriage;
  • The future earning potential of each party;
  • Tax consequences and other relevant considerations;
  • Prenuptial agreements;
  • Contributions made by one spouse to the other regarding education, employment advancement, and vocational skills; and
  • Any other factor the Court deems relevant in the case.

Why Litigation Can be Risky 

Because there is so much at stake in your divorce, it’s important to understand the risks of litigation. If you fail to settle with your spouse for any reason, the Judge will be able to determine what is “equitable” and, even if you believe it is unfair, it will be the decision represented in your final Judgment.

This makes it important to prioritize settlement as part of your divorce. More importantly, it makes it important to find a skilled Naperville divorce lawyer to represent your best interests in the case.

Contact Lawrence R. Surinak to Learn More About Equitable Distribution 

If you’re confused about equitable distribution or need to speak with an experienced divorce lawyer in Naperville, Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. can help. We have over 35 years of experience in family law matters and as such, can help settle your case and ensure you receive a fair share of what you’re entitled to.

To take advantage of your free, 30-minute consultation, contact us at 630-470-9990 or request your consultation using our simple online form. We look forward to speaking with you and offering our expertise as you begin to navigate the divorce process.

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