Property Division in Divorce

One of the issues facing a divorcing couple is deciding how their assets and property will be split after the divorce is final. The act of thoroughly and fairly dividing their property in a marital estate is known as property division.

The division of property can often be one of the most complex aspects of the divorce process, especially in Evanston, Chicago, Lake Forest, Oak Brook and the surrounding suburbs. Stern Perkoski Mendez is committed to making sure you understand the process—and more importantly, feel satisfied with the way that the property is divided.

That’s why we’ve provided an overview of the process below and resources to make sure that you have a solid understanding of what property division in Illinois entails. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at (847) 868-9584.

What is a marital estate?

When partners marry, they create a “marital estate” through which they jointly possess nearly all of the debts and assets acquired during the marriage. Upon divorce, the parties will equitably divide the marital estate between them with the help of an Evanston, Chicago, Lake Forest and Oak Brook divorce lawyer.

Marital property includes retirement accounts, savings accounts and even business interests, along with other physical property such as a house or vehicle. Regardless of how the property is titled, it is considered marital property if it was acquired during the marriage.

Marital property includes:

  • Property acquired after the marriage
  • Property acquired prior to the marriage in anticipation of the marriage (such as a house purchased for the couple to live in once married)
  • Pre-marital property placed into joint ownership
  • Non-marital property that loses its clear non-marital identity

Marital property excludes:

  • Property acquired before the marriage
  • Property inherited by one party
  • Property gifted to one party
  • Any growth and appreciation of non-marital property

Dividing Property in Divorce

Not only will the assets of the marital estate need to be divided during the divorce process, but also there will need to be an equitable share given to each party. Since a 50/50 split of all assets is usually not feasible, more often than not parties receive offsets for the disparate value of their debts and personal assets.

One very useful step is to create a marital balance sheet that helps calculate the percentage of property each spouse will receive. Stern Perkoski Mendez has provided a sample marital balance sheet so that couples considering a divorce in Illinois may begin to understand how property could be divided.

See a sample Marital Balance Sheet >

Where Property Division Gets Complicated

Many couples disagree about the dividing of property in divorce, which can slow the progress of the case. It can be especially difficult because each party must acknowledge that his or her retirement account, car, home and other assets are not entirely his or her own. This is true regardless of the other spouse’s financial contribution to that asset (or lack thereof). If there is distrust or resentment between partners, property negotiations often have the potential to exacerbate it.

Another common issue in the division of property during divorce is dissipation, or the use of marital funds for a non-marital purpose during the breakdown of the marriage. The classic examples of dissipation are funds used for a partner’s affair, gambling or drug use. In many cases, a sum equivalent to the dissipated assets is deducted from the offending spouse’s share of the marital estate.

When discussing property division with your Illinois divorce lawyer, it is always best to be honest and provide him or her with as much information as you can. The more information you can provide your attorney, the better off you will be.

Contact a Divorce Lawyer in Evanston, Chicago, Lake Forest and Oak Brook

If you have any questions about property division in divorce or wish to discuss your case further, please contact Stern Perkoski Mendez in Chicago, the North Shore, DuPage County or the surrounding suburbs so that we may review how the division of property relates to your specific case. Request a free consultation online or call us at (847) 868-9584.

Our boutique family law firm is based in Evanston, Chicago, Lake Forest and Oak Brook. We serve clients across Cook County and the North Shore, as well as Lake, DuPage and Will Counties.


“My divorce involved numerous delicate family issues, and Nancy handled them with professionalism, sensitivity and confidence. She was knowledgeable and skillful throughout the litigation process.”

Robert D., Libertyville
For a free consultation, call Stern Perkoski Mendez at (847) 868-9584 or contact us.