Illinois is an “equitable division” state. This should not be confused with an equal division. This is also different than a “community property” state. A Judge will take into account several factors so as to determine how to best “equitably” divide the marital estate. Among the factors a court will consider are: a) the parties income and earning potential, b) the parties’ education, c) length of the marriage, d) the parties’ medical history and e) what, if any, assets the party has acquired separate from the marriage. The courts do not take into account behavior or fault or one or the other spouse but may consider one spouse’s contribution to the estate or one spouse’s dissipation of marital assets (spending marital assets for non-marital purposes after the breakdown of the relationship).
For instance, if a family is comprised of two working adults who earn the exact or close to the same salary, have comparable educational backgrounds, have no non-marital assets (inheritance, gifts, pre-marital accounts or property), have equal earning potential, are both in similar health and the parties’ assets are clearly discernible, then yes, most likely a party will receive 50% of the family assets.
If for example, one spouse earns an annual salary of $250,000.00 and the other spouse earns $75,000.00, the parties have a marital home with no or little equity and liquid assets total $150,000.00, the party who earns $75,000.00 may be awarded a greater and disproportionate share of the parties’ liquid assets.
Another example is if one spouse A earns a salary of $100,000.00 and spouse B earns a salary of $90,000.00, the parties marital estates is valued at $200,000.00. Spouse B has a non-marital estate of $700,000.00. Spouse A has a job requiring much physical labor and is one year from retirement. Spouse B is 20 years younger and is on track to becoming vice-president of the corporation. A court will likely award Spouse B a greater and disproportionate share of the parties’ liquid assets.
Many examples and scenarios come to the courts for consideration and in particular, the courts in Illinois have the discretion to weigh a range of factors when dividing the marital estate equitably.