What is a Wife Entitled to in a Divorce in Illinois

What is a Wife Entitled to in a Divorce in Illinois

Divorcing spouses in Illinois have many questions about marital property division and spousal support. Illinois is an “equitable distribution” state, meaning marital property is divided fairly (though not always equally) in a divorce. Judges have significant discretion in divorce cases. There are also rules about separate or “non-marital” property.

This article will provide an overview of what a wife is entitled to in an Illinois divorce when it comes to finances and property. Key topics covered include:

Marital Property in Illinois


Marital property generally includes any assets or debts acquired during the marriage, with some exceptions. This means property bought or earned by either spouse while married is usually deemed marital property.

Presumed Marital Property

In Illinois, the law presumes the following types of assets acquired during a marriage are marital property:

  • Income or wages earned by either spouse
  • Retirement accounts like 401(k)s and pensions
  • Any property placed under joint ownership
  • Appreciation of assets owned before marriage (with some exceptions)

How Non-Marital Property is Defined

Non-marital property – or separate property – includes:

  • Gifts or inheritances received by one spouse
  • Assets owned prior to the marriage
  • Personal injury awards designated for one spouse
  • Property excluded in a prenup or postnup agreement
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Appreciation of Non-Marital Property

Appreciation refers to the increase in an asset’s value over time. In Illinois, appreciation of non-marital property is usually considered marital property if it occurred during the marriage. There are some exceptions if the increase was passive and not due to efforts of either spouse.

Equitable Distribution in Illinois

What It Means

Illinois divorce law provides for the equitable distribution of marital property. This means marital assets and debts are divided in a fair and just manner, but not necessarily on a 50/50 basis.

Factors Considered by Courts

Illinois judges consider the following factors when determining equitable distribution:

  • Each spouse’s contribution to acquiring marital property, including homemaking
  • Contribution to education or career potential of the other spouse
  • Duration of the marriage
  • Economic circumstances of each spouse
  • Tax consequences
  • Custodial provisions for children
  • Prior marriages or obligations to dependents
  • Age and health of the spouses

Retirement Accounts and Pensions

Retirement plans are often one of the most valuable marital assets. Illinois treats retirement accounts and pension plans as marital property to be divided equitably in divorce. This is true even if the account is only in one spouse’s name.

There are a few options for dividing retirement plans, including the quadro method, which splits the asset and assigns a portion to each spouse.

Spousal Support (Alimony)

Alimony or spousal support laws allow judges to order one spouse to provide financial support to the other after a divorce. There are a few types of spousal support in Illinois:

Types of Spousal Support

  • Temporary alimony – financial support ordered during a divorce proceeding
  • Permanent alimony – spousal support with no termination upon remarriage
  • Rehabilitative alimony – time-limited support to facilitate education or job skills
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Factors Determining Alimony Awards

Illinois judges weigh factors like:

  • Income and property awarded to each spouse
  • Present and future earning capacity
  • Standard of living during marriage
  • Duration of marriage
  • Age and health of spouses
  • Child custody responsibilities

Duration of Alimony

There are no hard rules under Illinois law about duration of alimony. Permanent spousal support may be ordered after lengthy marriages. Otherwise, alimony usually terminates once the receiving spouse is self-supporting.

How much is a wife entitled to in a divorce in Illinois?

In Illinois, divorce laws adhere to equitable distribution principles, meaning marital assets are divided fairly but not necessarily equally. Unlike some states with strict community property laws, Illinois considers various factors when determining the division of assets, including the duration of the marriage, each spouse’s contributions, earning potential, and financial needs.

Therefore, there’s no fixed amount a wife is entitled to in a divorce in Illinois. Instead, the court aims to achieve a fair outcome based on the specific circumstances of the marriage. This may involve dividing property, awarding spousal support (alimony), or both, depending on the case’s intricacies. It’s essential for individuals navigating divorce proceedings in Illinois to seek legal counsel to understand their rights and entitlements fully.

Tax Considerations

It’s important to understand the tax consequences of property division and alimony awards in an Illinois divorce. Certain transfers of property or assets between spouses are tax-free events if done pursuant to a divorce decree.

Seeking legal and financial guidance can maximize tax savings and ensure compliance with state and federal tax laws.

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The division of property and finances in an Illinois divorce depends on factors like length of marriage, assets, and income potential. Marital property is divided equitably, while non-marital property is awarded to the owning spouse. Spousal support may also be ordered on a short or long-term basis.

Understanding Illinois divorce laws on property and alimony is crucial for wives navigating the complex financial aspects of divorce. Consulting an experienced divorce attorney can help protect your rights. Though general rules apply, each divorce case involves unique facts best evaluated through legal advice.


1.Can a Prenup Impact Divorce Settlement?

Yes, a prenuptial agreement made before marriage can impact financial rights in an Illinois divorce. Courts generally uphold valid prenups, which often exclude certain assets from marital property.

2.Does Illinois Recognize Common Law Marriage?

No, Illinois does not legally recognize common law marriages formed within the state. However, a valid common law marriage formed in another state may be recognized. Rights to property division and spousal support only exist in formally solemnized marriages.

3.What if a Spouse Dissipates Assets Before Divorce?

If one spouse intentionally hides, wastes, or transfers marital assets before divorce, courts have authority to compensate the other spouse to prevent unfair outcomes.

4.How Can the Marital Home be Divided?

The marital home can be awarded to one spouse or sold and proceeds split. One spouse may buy out the other’s interest if they can afford it. The mortgage and other housing expenses also have to be divided or assigned.

5.What About Inherited Assets?

Inheritances and gifts acquired by one spouse during a marriage are generally considered non-marital property belonging only to the recipient spouse in an Illinois divorce. However, the inherited property may lose its non-marital status if actions like commingling funds occur.

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