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Why Property Ownership Doesn’t Always Matter in Divorce


It seems like common sense that in divorce, you should be able to keep property in your name and your partner should get to keep property in his or her name. Likewise, you may think that your debts are yours and his or her debts are his or hers. However, this isn’t really the way the court system works.

Illinois divorce laws favor an equitable distribution of marital property. Put simply, this means you won’t always receive the property in your name or the debts in your name either. Below, we discuss equitable distribution in greater detail and what to expect in your divorce.

What is Equitable Distribution?

There are two basic types of property distributions in divorce:

  1. Community Property – Assets and debts that were acquired throughout the course of the marriage belong to both parties equally.
  2. Equitable Distribution – Assets and debts are divided between the parties in a way that is “fair” and “just.” Courts account for many factors in making determinations, such as each party’s income and earning ability, the parties’ children, and the standard of living each spouse enjoyed during the marriage.

Illinois is an equitable distribution state. This means that there is no 50-50 split of property as there is in community property states.

What About Titles on Property Like the Marital Residence or Cars?

Some property, especially cars and homes, have titles. Sometimes, only one spouse will be on the title. However, this doesn’t mean that the spouse on the title is automatically granted the property as theirs.

In fact, you may be the only name on the title to your home and in Illinois, your spouse will still have equity in the home.

An exception to this rule is if you acquired property prior to your marriage. For example, if you bought a car before you were married and it was paid off with your earnings before marriage, it is an example of non-marital property and cannot be divided in the divorce. However, any property that you acquired and then used marital funds to pay for will likely be subject to division.

Get a Better Grasp on Equitable Distribution and Your Case by Contacting Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. 

At Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd., we’ve handled thousands of cases and complex property distribution issues throughout our 35 years of experience. As such, we’re confident in managing and resolving any property disputes that may arise in your case.

Take advantage of your free, 30-minute consultation today by contacting us at 630-470-9990 to speak directly with Larry. If you prefer, you may also request an appointment time that suits your schedule online. We look forward to speaking with you and resolving any questions you may have.

Concentrated on Family Law

Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. is a law firm concentrating solely on family law and has served clients in DuPage, Will, Kane, and Kendall counties for over 35 years.

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About Attorney Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd.

Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. is a law firm concentrating solely on family law and has served clients in DuPage, Will, Kane, and Kendall counties for over 35 years.

We continue to work with clients in Naperville, Wheaton, Lisle, Oswego, Downers Grove, and the surrounding areas to provide one-on-one support and attention that will help you through this difficult time.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us at any time. We look forward to offering our expertise and support to you throughout your case and after.