Divorce, while sometimes emotionally ravaging, can also be financially devastating when not handled appropriately. This is often because property division and other financial matters, such as child support and alimony, are addressed during the marriage dissolution process. Property division can address a number of matters, too, including a marital home, bank and retirement accounts, pensions and personal property such as vehicles, jewelry and even the family dishes.
Illinois and Indiana attempt to divide marital property equitably, which does not always mean equally. While what constitutes "equitable" is always up for argument based on the circumstances at hand, so, too, can what qualifies as marital property.
Generally speaking, marital property is the assets that are acquired during the course of marriage. Therefore, a house that is bought as a couple, retirement accounts and vehicles are often seen as being jointly owned. Separate property, on the other hand, are those assets that are owned prior to marriage as well as inheritances and gifts given specifically to one individual even though he or she is married. Assets that are bought with those gifts and inheritances are also considered separate property.
Separate property can become marital property, though, thereby subjecting it to property division. This is most often seen when individually held inheritances and gifts are commingles with marital property through the depositing of those funds into jointly held accounts. Individually owned assets that are used by both parties to a divorce may also be deemed marital property depending on the facts at hand.
Negotiating property division is usually the most difficult part of the divorce process. It can be cumbersome, contentious and trying. Yet, it is imperative that every detail and every asset is appropriately handled, otherwise an individual may be losing out on valuable assets to which he or she is entitled. Therefore, whether engaging in settlement negotiations or litigation, Illinois and Indiana residents need to carefully consider whether they could benefit from legal representation.