Getting a divorce in Illinois used to be a burdensome process that required numerous conditions to be met before a divorce would be granted. Also, the process for valuing the assets collected during the marriage has also changed to make the process easier. If you and your spouse are thinking about getting a divorce and want to know what to expect during the process, here is an overview of the changes made to the reason for getting a divorce and how the value of the assets will be determined so each spouse gets their fair share of the assets when splitting up the joint property.
Prior to 2016, you had to have concrete reasons for getting a divorce. These reasons including such things as committing adultery, leaving the home and deserting your spouse, drinking or taking drugs too much, physical and mental cruelty, and being convicted of a felony. Plus, you had to be separated from your spouse for at least 24 consecutive months in a contested divorce. None of these conditions are required as of January 1, 2016.
Now you simply need to state you have irreconcilable differences (commonly referred to as a "No Fault" divorce) and you need to be separated for only six months. All other conditions and waiting periods have been rescinded with the law changes.
Valuing Marital Assets
Another major change is the process for valuing the marital assets collected during the marriage. Marital assets are things you and your spouse have obtained together and do not include things like individual inheritances, property owned before the marriage, and other things. The couple separating would hire a CPA or other professional to value the assets and then they would argue in court how it much it was worth and how it should be split up equitably.
Now, a divorce court has the option to hire its own financial expert to determine the value of the property so it can render a fair ruling to both the parties. In the case of a spouse owning a house before the marriage with a mortgage and the other spouse helped to pay the mortgage, the increase in property value over the length of the marriage, if any, will be considered separate from the total value of the home. The non-owning spouse would only split the difference in the value increase and not the total value of the property.
All property values will be judged by its "fair market value". This simply means that the value is based on how much you would get for an item if you sold it on the open market at prevailing prices for such an item. This relieves the court, and the spouses, of coming to an agreement on the value of items and streamlines the process of getting divorced.